Texas is more than just BBQ (although there is a lot of open pit cooking going on in the state), the cuisine ranges from Tex-Mex to Southern to Claim to Fame items. In this article, we will discuss a couple of the major influences in the Texas food landscape.
There may be more to Texas than just BBQ, but the steady pilgrimage to 900 East 11th street in Austin has been going on for years now…with no signs of it slowing down any time soon. Declared the “best damn BBQ in America” year after year has put Texas BBQ front and center in the BBQ discussion. Only 18 items on the menu (which includes the sides and pies on the dessert menu) they keep it simple and tasty.
Texas features more than just Franklin BBQ in Austin, there are actually four general regions of BBQ styles and taste in the state.
• East Texas style: The meat is slowly cooked to the point that it is “falling off the bone.” It is typically cooked over hickory wood and marinated in a sweet, tomato-based sauce.
• Central Texas style: The meat is rubbed with spices and cooked over indirect heat from pecan or oak wood.
• West Texas style: The meat is cooked over direct heat from mesquite wood.
• South Texas style: Features thick, molasses-like sauces that keep the meat very moist.
Just driving across Texas and diving into the BBQ culture there could potentially be a full time job.
The most influential style of cooking that has emerged from Texas is the “Tex-Mex” tradition of cooking. This traditional method of cooking has influenced cuisine around the world.
Historically, this type of cooking was done by “Tejanos”. Traditionally a group of people who are native born in Texas with historically ancestral roots in Northern Mexico (once known as “New Spain”). This type of cooking combined local ingredients and cooking styles with the flavor profiles preferred by the mostly Anglo Europeans who were living in the area.
Some of the more famous and favorite items to come out of this cooking style include:
• Chili con carne
• Hard tacos
• Chile con queso
• Tostadas with red salsa
• Tortilla soup
Some things owe their creation to Texas. A few of these things include:
• Frito Pie/Walking Taco – originally created by the Frito-Lay company of Plano, Texas as a promotional idea to sell more individual bags of Fritos.
• Chili con Carne/Texas Red Chili – a spicy chili that is made of meat, spices and chili peppers (no beans, no tomatoes, ever) can trace its history back to 1723.
• Hamburgers – yup, first served in Athens, Texas in 1880. Ground beef was fried and put between two hand cut slices of bread.
• Corn Dogs – making their first appearance on a menu in 1932 at the Texas State Fair, these little gems have spread around the world and back.
This article barely scratches the surface of all the food made famous in Texas, but it is a fair start. Take a minute and look for your own gem from Texas to include on your next menu.