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Big Question: Food of our Fathers/Happy Texas Independence Day edition | Manolo for the Big Girl

Big Question: Food of our Fathers/Happy Texas Independence Day edition

When I lived in Texas, I almost never ate traditional Texan food. Now that I’m in Mexico where I have lengthy and ultimately fruitless (see what I did there) discussions on what is and is not a green tomato –No, that’s a tomatillo. Okay, see what you just handed me? That is ALSO a tomatillo– I find myself cooking soul food and Texas cuisine on a regular, bordering obsessive, basis.

Part of it is the joy of introducing people to your favorite foods. Hot Latin Boy has recently fallen for shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy and gin and tonics, all in a big way and I couldn’t be more proud.

The other part is the comfort of the familiar.

Living in Texas I would never bother to make my own barbecue unless I wanted some Tennessee-style pulled pork because there’s no point in smoking your own brisket when half of God’s Own BBQ Joints are within a 40 minute drive.

(These are the four most famous pit stops in Lockhart, Texas; ground zero for great Texas bbq. I am and always shall be a Smitty’s girl)

In the spirit of friendship and smoked meat, I am throwing a Texas Independence Day party for a dozen or so of my Mexican friends on Saturday and the menu will feature a proper Texas brisket smoked for 12 hours, potato salad, cowboy beans, deviled eggs, homemade smushy white bread, pickled onions and, incongruously, Bananas Foster.

Bananas Foster? Isn’t that a New Orleans thing?

Yes. Yes it is.

Originally it was going to be the much more traditional banana puddings, complete with low rent Nilla wafers and luscious pillows of boozy whipped cream (ideally it would be my blue ribbon-winning brownie pecan pie, but I can’t find pecans here for love nor money), but I made the mistake of introducing the locals to the flambeed delight earlier this week. The response was so orgiastically enthusiastic, I worried for the sanctity of my tablecloth. Now I’m pretty sure if I ended the party Foster-less I’d quickly find myself in a new, short-lived career as a great white canape for great white sharks.

So what about you? If you were in a foreign land and asked to serve the food of your people, what would your menu be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 Responses to “Big Question: Food of our Fathers/Happy Texas Independence Day edition”

  1. Jen209 March 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    When I studied abroad in London, I found myself missing, of all things, Kraft Mac &cheese. It was only to be found at the fancy imported store and was ridiculously expensive. So I set out to make my own with real, actual cheese, butter, milk and noodles…and I am SO much the better for it. Now I miss making the real stuff with English white cheddar.

    My other comment on this topic was that no one there had ever eaten fajitas, and they pronounced them phonetically, which I got a kick out of so much that I made them often.

  2. Ali March 2, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    As an Austrian living in the US I am quite often asked to make traditional Austrian food. I almost always make an Austrian Goulash (which is a bit different than the Hungarian Goulash) with homemade spaetzle, I also make Viennese potato soup or fritattensuppe (a beef bouillon with crepes cut into stripes instead of noodles), Austrian potato salad (like German potato salad but with pumpkinseed oil) and as a dessert I make one of my grandmother’s inventions (my granny was a chef) that she used to call “creamy slices” – it’s similar to what you guys call a banana pudding – it’s vanilla pudding or chocolate pudding, layered with bananas and lady fingers. And I just learned to make tiramisu the way I like it (no whipped cream, just mascarpone, ladyfingers dipped in expresso and liquor) which is very popular and very authentic in Austria since we are neighbors to Italy. And I make an amazing cocktail called the Hugo which is not per se Austrian but very popular in Austria and Germany. It’s elderflower syrup with Prosecco or Champagne, fresh mint and sparkling water.

  3. txbunny March 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Recipes of my people – hmm – which side?? Which meal??

    Probably just invite 1/2 the neighborhood and have shrimp creole over white rice, red beans and rice, ham, buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, green beans with bacon, lima beans with bacon, sauteed yellow squash and zucchini with onions, sliced heirloom tomatoes, tossed green salad with semi homemade ranch dressing on the side, ambrosia,and then a table of desserts that included pecan pie, red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, coconut cake with lemon curd filling and 7 min icing, and a couple kinds of cookies. There would be gallons upon gallons of iced tea as well.

    Last time I did this over 17 yrs ago in the northeast it was considered to be a touch exotic and there were 75-80 people present.

    Btw, love Smitty’s. :-)

  4. cedarg March 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    To really get at the foods of my Wisconsin farmer folk, the keystone of the meal would be bratwurst (and if you don’t boil them in beer before grilling them you may as well throw them out.) The really hard part is getting Sheboygan county “hard” rolls to go with them. Sides should include German potato salad, baked beans (both with plenty of bacon for flavor), homemade beer cheese with dark beer and sharp cheddar, ritz crackers, garden tomatoes and a seven layer salad.

    For dessert, the only question is which bars, and how many kinds? Lemon bars, a rice crispy-peanut butter-chocolate concoction, and blondies are the bare minimum. Beer and pop are standard, but no one in the dairy state should serve bars without offering ice cold milk as an option.

  5. Katie March 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    My cravings when I lived in Mexico were bagels and proper iced coffee. Matzo ball soup with challah and lentil-vegetable soup with multigrain bread capture the Ashkenazi Jewish via the Moosewood Cookbook food of my childhood pretty well.

  6. Miss B March 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    I am from the midwest – the land of jello salad and casseroles. The food of my people can be bland and gloppy. HOWEVER!

    I would be forced to make them my three favorite jello salads: pinapple lime, cherry w/cream cheese and pretzels, and this amazing frozen stuff my Aunt makes that we just call “Carol’s Frozen Stuff”.

    I would also have to have some kind of casserole present – probably either a tuna or a chicken a la king type of thing.

    Growing up near Chicago and marrying a “south side” boy means that I am quite familiar with the absolute most perfect way to garnish a hot dog and how to properly order a “beef sammich”. (with motz, sweet peppers and soak it)

    My own family recipes tend toward the non-standard for the midwest. I grew up with non-iceberg lettuce salads dressed with only oil and vinegar at every dinner. I also have a fondness for oxtail stew – which I make every year according to my Mother’s recipe and weep when it is gone. My family also makes a once a year “sausage ring” for Christmas morning that might have to make an appearance.

    So…much….goood….FOOD!

  7. Bethany March 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    I live in Kentucky, so I would cook catfish and hushpuppies, greens, fried green tomatoes, biscuits, blackberry cobbler, pecan pie, and a whole lot of sweet tea.

  8. Andrea March 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    I’m a born and raised Marylander. I’d probably make artichoke spinach dip for starters, crab cake sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw, a strawberry rhubarb pie and a key lime pie.

  9. Klee March 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    While living in Italy, I threw a dinner party where I served roast chicken, chili, apple pie and brownies. I also catered a dinner where we served jambalaya, burger sliders and carrot cake. All was a huge hit except the carrot cake. They just weren’t getting a vegetable in dessert.

  10. Jane2 March 2, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    I’d make something with grass-fed beef, sides of poutine and something using zucchini squash, and top it off with Nanaimo Bars, Canadian nature’s perfect food.

  11. Jeni March 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    When I was an au pair in Germany we (the other American au pair in the area aka my current roommate/best friend) tried to introduce the family to smores. My host family was having a big Easter bonfire (cause giant fires are a *thing* in N. Germany apparently) and we thought it would be fun to have something American to serve everyone…

    Have you ever tried to describe gram crackers to someone? Us: “They are crackers but kind of sweet but not like a cookie sweet” Them: O.o ??? We thought we had described what we needed- sweet-ish crackers, marshmallows and chocolate, apparently not so much. The night came and my family gave us Ritz type crackers and marshmallow balls rolled in coconut, in pastel colors. The chocolate is fantastic though. We then tried to explain to the people what a smore was and we even gave toasting the marshmallow a go but the coconut kept burning. Im pretty sure those people still think we were crazy.

    I dont even want to talk about the hilarity that ensued when we tried to make chocolate chip cookies (no chocolate chips or vanilla extract in like a 50 mile radius!?)

    If asked to do it again I think Id forgo the smores… I suppose Id make ham (with a nice sweet brown sugar glaze), mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and crescent rolls or corn bread. For desert Id probably make pumpkin pie or Oreo pie ( or both because I LOVE desserts!)

  12. The gold digger March 3, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    When I lived in Chile, I made lunch for my co-workers. I can’t remember what the main dish was, but I made brownies and peach cobbler for dessert. Fifteen years later, when one of my Chilean co-workers found me on facebook, the first thing she asked me for was the recipes for the desserts.

    Cedarg, I would recommend a poppyseed bar to go with.

  13. Madame Suggia March 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I’d make a ‘proper’ afternoon tea…teeny cucumber finger sandwiches (with the crusts cut off), plain & fruited scones with butter, strawberry jam and thick whipped cream, a Bakewell tart with fresh raspberries (and probably Nigella’s damp chocolate loaf cake, just in case). Add in a savoury like Gentleman’s Relish/Pate Paperum on melba toast. Twinnings English Breakfast tea to drink (made in a teapot, brewed strong, splash of milk, NO SUGAR, what are we, heathens?). If alcohol is desired or required, Pimms with lots if ice.

    Everything made from scratch, including the bread, oh yeah.

    That of course is the high summer version; I have versions for all seasons & all occasions, which are all sadly quite delicious and probably why I’m currently about 40 pounds overweight. But happy.

  14. aa March 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    When I lived in London I used to cook these Spanish dishes on a regular basis: Spanish omelette (duh), Galician pie (sardine or chorizo, or both — they combine surprisingly well, but the trick is ALWAYS to use lots of onion), pisto manchego (the Spanish version of ratatouille), potaje de vigilia (chickpeas, spinach, and dried cod), and lentils with chorizo.

  15. Margo A March 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    My hometown’s culinary claim to fame is the Hangtown Fry, which originated during the Gold Rush. The story is that a miner struck it rich, walked into a restaurant and demanded to know what was the most expensive thing the had. The answer was eggs, potatoes, and oysters, so he told them to fry them all up together.

  16. lali March 4, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    I’m from the Philippines so the problem would be finding the right ingredients to make the dishes elsewhere, especially in America or Europe. I hear there are more Asian stores there now, so maybe it would be possible to put a couple of things together. One would be adobo — a braised stew of pork or chicken pieces (sometimes both), stewed in vinegar and dark soy sauce with lots of garlic and onions until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the sauce is thick. Served over fresh steamy hot white rice. A family favorite is tokwa’t kamatis — small cubes of tofu deef fried until firm, served with a sauce of rough cut tomatoes, onions, garlic and fermented black beans. And as summer is kicking off here, the hot weather demands a cold snack — halo-halo (literally “mix-mix”). In a tall, large glass we put in heaping spoonfuls of sweet preserved beans, coconut and palm jello, sweet corn, sweetened boiled bananas, sometimes some flan, topped off with several large scoops of shaved ice, and filled with evaporated milk. The “special” version has ice cream. Most westerners find it really, really odd (What? Beans in a dessert?) but like it once the shock wears off.

  17. Ravna March 4, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    Being that I’m from Sweden and my man is from Azerbaycan I’ve had the opportunity to indulge myself in presenting him to a lot of classic swedish meals.
    The Yule dinner. We celebrate Yule/Christmas the 24th of Dec.
    Classic dishes are salted grilled/cooked ham with breadcrum and mustard coating. Brusselsprouts either boiled in water or cream (for fancypants) Smoked meat (especially if you live up north like me) It can be reindeer or elk. Swedish meatballs, Glazed ribs, An assortment of different pickled herrings. Smoked salmon, salmon pate, boiled potatoes, different sallads and sauces. Especially the red beetroot sallad is important. You boil the beetroots, dice them and an apple. Add sourcream (mayonaise if you must) and salt and pepper. Many like Lutfisk on their tables. Google it if you must. It’s atrocious. A Hint. It is conserved with what we in sweden call Kaustiksoda which is normally used to decalcify your household. After that you eat either a classic swedish cheesecake (not in any way similar to your kind) and then tons of homemade pralines and cookies and cakes.

  18. retna March 4, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    Instant noodles with the works, the staple of my college years. My friends still call ahead to ask for it to this day.

  19. Anna Livia March 4, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine WAS my comfort food while in Scotland. I used to trael back from the US with a suitcase loaded with matzo ball mix, latke mix, you name it.

    Now I live in Alsace and so many of the other things I grew up on, the REAL Jewish food, are just around the corner at the local supermarket.

    I came here expecting even more foreign and I seem to have found home.

  20. AnthroK8 March 4, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    My dad was career USAF, and during those years, my mom spent a lot of time hosting Fancy Open Houses. So in a lot of ways, the Food of My People is things like little individual spanikopitas and stuffed mushrooms and such.

    My family makes home made polish sausage and sauerkraut as well, so that might also feature.

  21. teteatete March 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    I’m enjoying the rrony of throwing a Texas Independence Day party in Mexico almost as much as the menu!

  22. teteatete March 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Bah. Irony.

  23. Miss Plumcake March 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    @Teteatete: It took every ounce of my not-inconsiderable self-control to not announce, when the first guests started arriving TWO HOURS after the scheduled start time “See, this is why you people lost the war.”