Chili and cornbread. Beans and cornbread. Stuffing with cornbread. The dish is in the cast of many menus, but it always gets stuck in the supporting role. No doubt cornbread’s long history (think hardscrabble predecessors like ash cakes) and cornmeal’s ubiquity in the diet of our forebears led some to take it for granted.
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In the midst of our ice cream shortage, just about every Texan can relate to that little girl. But to the relief of a deprived nation, Blue Bell Creameries announced this week that it’s making a tentative comeback. The company “hopes” to start test production in its Sylacauga, Alabama, facility in the next several weeks. “When production resumes at the Sylacauga plant, it will be on a limited basis as the company seeks to confirm that new procedures, facility enhancements and employee training have been effective,” the company stated in a press release. “Upon completion of this trial period, Blue Bell will begin building inventory to return to the market.”
Because no one peruses the websites of fast food chains, it took almost a week for the news to hit, but hit it did: Whataburger, the pride of Texas food, says it won’t allow open carry in its restaurants even after a new state law legalizing it goes into effect.
As the saying goes: I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could. I shivered through my early winters in the suburbs of Chicago, moved around a lot as a kid, and finally experienced some sense of home when my family landed in McAllen. And while I’ve taken to Texas as my home in the years since—I have a tattoo of the Alamo on my arm—part of doing your growing up in more than one place is that you take pieces of all of them with you. For me, it’s a deep, abiding affection for Chicago pizza. Specifically, the pizza that comes from Gino’s East, a small chain with four locations in the city of Chicago proper, another half-dozen in the suburbs, and—as of this year—five restaurants in Texas.
The fact that Gino’s East pizza—which isn’t the most famous Chicago pizza chain (that’d be Giordano’s or Uno’s) or the most critically adored (that’d be Lou Malnatti’s)—is the one that exists in my adopted home is a stroke of fortune that it’s still hard to fathom. Like a lot of families that do a lot of moving around, mine sought a way to connect with where we came from through food. For some, that means making tamales at Christmas in Canada. For mine, it was a nigh-religious belief that Gino’s East makes the best pizza in the entire world.
Looking for a festive way to celebrate Independence Day? We’ve got a roundup of summer sippers perfect for any patriot party.
There are some barbecue places in Texas where asking for sauce is basically equivalent to walking in and saying, “I don’t even know what barbecue is.” Try that at Kreuz Market, in Lockhart, for instance, and you can season your ribs with extra scorn. (Tip for sauce lovers: bring a bottle of sauce, get your meal to go, and enjoy it at the square in Lockhart instead.) But the fact that Texas barbecue isn’t defined by its sauce didn’t stop Stubb’s—the sixth-largest barbecue sauce brand in the country—from fetching a cool $100 million for its sale to the spice-and-seasoning giant McCormick’s last week.
Back in my college days, in Atlanta, whenever I got a craving for something Texas-y that didn’t involve Fritos or Wolf Brand Chili, I’d rustle up my roommate and we’d hie down Peachtree Street to LongHorn Steaks, the very first location of a humble concept later gobbled up by the corporate overlords of Olive Garden.
Over at the popular food website Daily Meal, they’ve crafted a painstaking list of the 101 best hamburgers in the United States. What could be more fun than researching such a list? Oh, right: not having to make such difficult distinctions between great burgers.
Look at the decisions that came into play in Texas alone. The first Lone Star burger clocks in at number nineteen, with the famous Tostada Bean Burger from Chris Madrid’s in San Antonio. That’s a less-trendy choice than some other options (as the comparative line at locations of the Austin/Dallas burger chain Hopdoddy make clear), and it’s followed up by another one off the beaten path: the Perini Ranch Steakhouse’s burger, in the tiny town of Buffalo Gap just outside of Abilene.
Rounding out the list, though, are burgers from more usual suspects, at least on the map: Houston (Becks Prime, Guy’s Meat Market) and Dallas (Motor & Maple, Keller’s Drive-In) each land two burgers apiece on the list, Fort Worth sneaks in with another one (Love Shack), and Austin lands a whopping five.