When I was a teenager growing up in Wichita Falls, which is regularly hailed as one of the hottest cities in the state (and sometimes the country), I spent my summers smelling like roadkill. The moment I stepped outside my house, sweat began sliding like syrup down my back. According to the old-timers, there were three Dante-like levels of heat in Wichita Falls: A normal day was “hot as fire” (pronounced “fahr”). A very hot day was “hot as hell” (pronounced “hey-yull”).
The story of Texas can be reduced to one sentence: somebody has something somebody else wants and will put up a fight to get.
You may not recognize Kyler Murray’s name, but don’t worry, you’ll be cheering for him in no time. The electrifying quarterback just finished up his career at Allen High School, winning back-to-back-to-back state titles, producing 14,500 yards of total offense and 186 touchdowns, and going 43-0 as a starter. Texas, of course, has seen phenoms before—Ken Hall, Eric Dickerson, Vince Young, the list goes on—but that’s why the sport continues to thrive: the next star is only a season away.
Just moved to Texas? Congratulations! You can now claim the same home state as Beyoncé. Born and bred in Houston, the 33-year-old tour de force is the world’s greatest performer—and arguably its most famous Texan. Her last album—the fourteen-track, seventeen-video masterpiece she surprised everyone with in December 2013—sold one million digital copies in less than a week.
Beer: Time was, when a Texan had a hankering for a cold beer, he would pop a top on a frosty Lone Star, Pearl, or Shiner. Nowadays, thanks to a thriving craft-brew industry, the possibilities are limitless. May the Texanist suggest a refreshing Hans’ Pils by Real Ale Brewing Company, out of Blanco?
It’s not entirely clear where grapefruit originated, but one thing is certain: Ruby Reds are native Texans. Back before the Roosevelt administration (the first one), all grapefruit was of a paler persuasion. But because these golden spheres of goodness don’t cross-pollinate, mutant offspring eventually appeared and really hit the sweet spot. The red variety—born of a mutation found on a pink-grapefruit tree in McAllen in 1929—has a skin like an Amarillo sunset.
No doubt you have cattle where you come from, but the Lone Star State has many, many more. “In this great staple article of food supply,” wrote newspaperman George H. Sweet in 1871, “Texas has a mine of wealth far more extensive than the gold diggings of California.” Eleven million cows make a lot of steaks, and the ribeye is king, a gorgeous hunk of crimson-colored meat shot through with pearly fat.
a. Classic Mexican: Close to what you would find in Mexico, these tacos—sometimes called street tacos—are usually made with one or two thin corn tortillas. Traditional fillings include pollo (chicken), barbacoa (beef cheek), lengua (beef tongue), and al pastor (pork and pineapple).
b. Modern American: Offered on either corn or flour tortillas, new-style tacos might include roasted corn, Monterey Jack cheese, fried plantains, New Mexico green chiles, or sour cream.