The 10 Do's and Don't's of Texas Food
After seeing the dialogue back and forth on Lennie Ambrose's post about sweet tea and its availability in Texas, my colleagues and I began discussing our own caveats about eating in Texas.
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt One of my hobbies is taking jingoistic photos of our state flag. God bless Texas!
Like other states or cities who are very particular about their cuisines, Texas has its own little set of rules when it comes to eating. In Chicago, for example, putting ketchup on a hot dog is slightly worse than trampling on the American flag after setting it on fire using the Eternal Flame from John F. Kennedy's gravesite. And in Germany, putting a slice of orange or lemon into your hefeweizen is akin to ordering a beer and then pissing straight into the mug before drinking it. Refreshing!
Over the course of an afternoon, we came up with the 10 irrefutable rules of Texas food, the do's and don't's that any self-respecting Texan must abide by while eating and drinking in the Lone Star State.
10. No ketchup on burgers. We don't have too many rules when it comes to burgers, but this is one line that can't be crossed. Ketchup is for French fries only. Mayonnaise and mustard are for burgers. Just ask Barry Popik, chronicler of food-related jargon, whose compendium lists "Yankee Burger" as a Texan (and Oklahoman) term for any burger with ketchup on it.
Notice how the ketchup is close to but not on the burger. Keep it that way.
9. No sugar in grits. This should be a given -- corn and sugar don't go together unless you're talking high-fructose corn syrup -- yet some people insist on putting sugar in their grits for breakfast. I'm looking at you, Dad -- a lifelong Houstonian and confused grits-eater -- who uses Equal packets, which is even worse. Stop it. Grits can accommodate many ingredients (salt, butter, cheese, paprika, bacon, shrimp, etc.) but never sugar.
8. It's not a fair without corn dogs. It doesn't matter if it's the State Fair of Texas, the Renaissance Festival or a fly-by-night operation with a rickety Tilt-a-Whirl set up in the parking lot of Greenspoint Mall: If there aren't corn dogs for sale, it's not a real fair. Leave. Now.
Sure, those fried Oreos sound nice. But where are the corn dogs?
7. No sweet tea. I think this one has been discussed to death recently, but it bears inclusion on this list because it's still true. Texans don't drink sweet tea. That's a Southern thing. And what are Texans not? Southern. We're Texan.
6. No beans in chili. What's the saying? "If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain't got no beans." There are few things that are fought over more bitterly than the addition of beans into traditional "Texas red" chili. As this article in Texas Cooking puts it, "When we say chili, we really mean chile con carne, which means, literally, chile peppers with meat." Nothing else. Certainly not beans.
I suppose you can put tits and/or tails into your chili, as long as it doesn't contain beans.