Q: I’m perplexed about the recent black bean craze. Growing up, we had refried, pinto, or ranch beans with our Mexican food, but now it seems everyone is flocking to the black bean. Maybe it’s my thoughts about the Mier Expedition, when the captured Texans had to draw beans out of a pot and the ones drawing black beans were shot. Is it real Tex-Mex if it is served with a black bean?
Ed Blair, Dallas
A: The Texanist’s love affair with beans is such that when faced with accusations that he is full of them, he has at times been incapable of denying it with a straight face. Those who have witnessed him reach level fourteen of his famous fourteen-layer bean dip with a single scoop can attest to this passion for bean consumption. But you are right, platters of so-called Tex-Mex that feature black beans instead of pintos do seem to occur more than they once did. In the Texanist’s recollection, neither El Chico nor El Chacho, the two Tex-Mex eateries most frequented in his Temple youth, offered anything even resembling el frijol negro, although his focus then would have been on the baskets of glistening sopaipillas, an official pastry of Texas. So too are you right, or at least not wrong, to question the provenance of black bean–sided entrées. Generally, authentic Tex-Mex is distinguishable by its muted colors, with shades of yellowy-orange and brown dominating the plate. Dishes that have origins in Mexico’s interior regions come with more contrast—bright sauces, stark-white rice, and beans of ebony. As for the latter’s gaining on the former in popularity, you can thank a population with an evolving palate. Black beans are also thought to be more healthful than pintos, though, as you point out, this has not always been the case. Having a preference for either is fine, but connecting an aversion to a particular bean with an infamous chapter in the history of the Republic of Texas is, in the Texanist’s mind, a stretch. In those unfortunate doings of March 25, 1843, referred to by the chroniclers of such events as the Black Bean Episode, the selection of a black bean meant death. Today that same bean choice will not carry with it an outcome so dire.
Q: We are a couple of Texas-raised ladies who moved to New Orleans for school and have never left. Actually, it looks like we will probably be here for the rest of our lives. We do a lot of things the people in Texas don’t do: We cheer for the Saints, pay state income tax, and drink daiquiris from drive-throughs. But we still love Texas a lot. In fact, despite our Big Easy–living ways, we can’t seem to bring ourselves to ditch our Texas license plates. We have resided in New Orleans for eight years, yet we still cling to this one major statement of our Texas pride. Is it time to make the switch? How do we reconcile our need to assimilate to our adopted state while still remaining Lone Star–faithful?
Emily Booth, New Orleans, via Missouri City
Kara Leediker New Orleans, via Dallas
A: Seeing as the two of you appear to have thoroughly submersed yourselves in the culture there, the Texanist, so that he may be understood more clearly, will dispense his advice in an appropriate tongue, namely that of beloved Cajun television chef and raconteur Justin Wilson: How y’all are? The Texanist is glad for y’all to hear him. And he’s gonna told you really and truly dat y’all shouldn’t worry much at all ’bout nuttin’ doin’ with this here situation. He gar-on-tees! [Editors’ note: The Texanist, so that he may be less annoying, will now return to dispensing advice in his native tongue.] The inseparability of Texans and pride in their homeland is a character trait that even an out-of-state address will not diminish. The name of the pro football team for whom one roots, how one is taxed, and where and how one is able to consume tasty frozen alcoholic refreshments are irrelevant. Texans can reside outside the state’s boundaries, partake in these sorts of activities, and still remain proud Texans. Cheer for the Saints, pay state income tax, and drink daiquiris at will. But before letting les bons temps roll too much further in an automobile adorned with Texas plates, the Texanist suggests dropping by the nearest Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles to find out what exactly Louisiana law requires. If a switch is necessary, then a switch is necessary. Instead of discarding your Texas tags, though, or trading them for Mardi Gras beads, hang on to them, as old license plates can be nailed to a variety of things in a variety of ways that will allow for the continued display of your Texas pride.
Q: How wrong is it for a person to attempt to start up a conversation in a public restroom?
Elliott P. McCann, Fort Worth
A: Even in a public privy, private time should remain, as the name suggests, private. End of discussion. The only acceptable deviation from this rule would be the occurrence of a recent and notable meteorological event that might call for a short one- or two-word dialogue. For example, male number one: “Hot out.” Male number two: “Yep.” The Texanist has no idea what transpires in the ladies’ room but would guess that this rule is unisex.
Q: I ride a Harley and have a very good buddy with whom I used to enjoy riding. He had a Harley of his own but had to sell it a while back for economic reasons, so lately he’s been tagging along on the back of my bike. I like his company once we reach our destination and I was fine with giving him the lift, but it’s starting to get old. Riding without him wouldn’t be as much fun, but I’m starting to feel weird about sharing my hog so often. What can I do to remedy this increasingly uncomfortable situation?
A: Relationships between man friends often involve bond-building activities in which a close proximity is unavoidable. These rides with your pal are a perfect example. The Texanist, for another example, is known to partake in bouts of beer-soaked leg wrestling. The key here is that these types of encounters, while close, are somewhat brief. For instance, think of two bighorn rams suddenly clashing heads on a hillside. Not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea. Close interaction, then back to grazing and checking out ewes. Can you imagine what the disastrous result would be were the sheep’s horns to entangle? Your friend, by wearing out his welcome, is endangering what appears to be a solid palship. And while you could attach a sidecar to your motorbike or help your playmate invest in a clunker of his own, the best remedy might just be to forgo the rides altogether and take up leg wrestling.