Being a Homesick Texan
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NAME: Lisa Fain | AGE: 42 | HOMETOWN: Houston | QUALIFICATIONS: Seventh-generation Texan who moved to New York City in 1995 / Started the food blog Homesick Texan (homesicktexan.com) in 2005 / Wrote The Homesick Texan Cookbook, which will be in stores this month (read an excerpt)
● My great-great-great-great grandpa John Coffman emigrated from Tennessee in 1840 to one thousand acres on the Peters Colony, in what we know today as Collin County. He was the first person in the area with an iron stove. And Chambersville, another community in Collin County, was named for my great-great-great grandpa Elisha Chambers. He was nicknamed “Taters” Chambers because of his sweet potatoes. My grandma still lives there today.
● The first thing I eat when I return home from New York is Tex-Mex. There was a place by my mom’s house in Houston called Amalia’s that had the best enchiladas verdes, which were stuffed with carnitas and Monterey Jack, smothered in a tomatillo-and-poblano salsa, and topped with avocado slices and sour cream.
● A while back some Austin friends living in New York said, “Let’s do Mexican tonight!” We all went out and couldn’t find anything. So it became a quest. I would read about a place in New Jersey, and I’d go by myself on the PATH train and walk five miles to a restaurant, and it would be terrible. So I started cooking, because that was the only way I could get it to taste like it should.
● One of my first posts on my blog was titled “To bean or not to bean?” in regards to Texas chili. Of course, there were lots of passionate responses. One person insisted that I move back to Texas if I even had to ask the question.
● I enjoy arguing with people about why Texas chili is superior to all others. And when I serve my chili to non-Texan friends in New York, they tend to agree.
● My chili recipe was created from watching my dad and other family members. But in New York I discovered that the chili powders tasted like dirt, so I started making it with dried whole chiles. I realized that they have such an intense, vibrant flavor that I never went back to chili powder.
● One time when I served chicken-fried steak to some New York friends, a few were like, “Uh, wouldn’t this be better if it was made with a ribeye?” To which I replied, “No!” A thick, marbled ribeye doesn’t need any help. I’m not a fan of chicken-fried steaks made with high-end cuts. They’re silly and miss the point.
● After I’d been blogging for a couple years, the Times of London named Homesick Texan one of the top fifty food blogs in the world. It was about that time I started thinking that maybe this could be more than a hobby.
● You just can’t find decent refried beans in New York City.