Texas – Part One: Good Food and Missing Passports

I have just arrived, exhausted (please remind me to never again catch a plane without having had at least 30 minutes of sleep the night before), back to St. Louis, after spending 5 days in Texas. (Actually, I returned yesterday. I was just too tired to think about writing until today)

After a struggle in St Louis airport trying to convince the authorities that, yes, I could take an internal flight within the United States without a passport just as long as I had photo ID (and having to explain to them what the phrase ‘internal flight’ meant), I arrived in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday morning ready to spend the coming days being shown around the city and spending time with friends. Upon landing, I discovered that the popular saying – “everything is bigger in Texas” – was indeed true. The first thing I noticed when stepping out of the plane was the amount of obese people wearing ridiculously bright colours (I didn’t think they needed to be drawing any more attention to their bodies which rippled beneath their neon sportswear with each waddling step). I also found, to my delight, that people in Texas actually do wear cowboy hats – something which, until then, I had always thought was just a clichéd stereotype. This was to keep me amused for the next five days.

Like these guys! Real life cowboys!

I was picked up from the airport by my friend Jesus (I know! Plus his best friend is called Angel, so I felt like I was in the bible the whole time) and from there we went to the end of the church service to meet some more of his friends and then go out for lunch, where everyone laughed at my accent when I ordered a Doctor Pepper. Come to think of it, the majority of activities we did during my stay in San Antonio were based around food, which I believe is the perfect, and perhaps the only true way for an outsider (and especially one with limited time) to gain knowledge of, and get a feel for a new place and its culture. Here are some of the restaurants we ate at:

On the first night, Jesus, Angel and I went to Mi Tierra, a family run Mexican restaurant and bakery which first opened its doors back in 1941. It is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and all year round it is decorated with over-the-top Christmas decorations. Mariachi singers float from table to table, serenading couples and families as they dine with Mexican love songs in their deep-voiced harmonies and dramatic vibratos. There I tried fried ice cream (another thing about Texas – EVERYTHING is fried. More about that later.), which was delicious: a scoop of vanilla ice cream rolled in coconut, pecans, peanuts and toasted flakes, topped with a homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream, and served in a ‘sopapilla’ (a kind of thin, deep fried pastry shell). All of this was then sprinkled with icing sugar (powdered sugar for the Americans) and the whole thing was amazing.

The next day we drove for over an hour outside of San Antonio to eat at a restaurant called The Salt Lick. The journey led us through miles of countryside: around rolling hills, through green and yellow farmlands, and over sleepy streams, until we came to the restaurant. A brick and wooden building stood in the middle of this uninhabited countryside, with no visible sign of civilization anywhere except for the full-to-bursting car park which encircled it – a sign of a good restaurant. As we walked through the doors, the first sight to welcome us was a huge open pit barbecue laden with enormous steaks, full racks of ribs, and sausages hanging in bunches above the grill in its rising smoke. From this moment I knew I was going to enjoy my meal. The restaurant had a bring your own beer policy, so customers would come in clutching six packs of it. We sat at a wooden bench table and I ordered ribs and sausage with coleslaw and beans. The meat was so good, and their homemade barbecue sauce made it even better.

The next day we drove to Austin, which, though only an hour’s drive away, had a completely different atmosphere to San Antonio. It was a vibrant, youthful city, full of young fashionable (and noticeably healthier – i.e. less obese) people. I didn’t see one cowboy hat that day. We spent our time touring the city, eating good paninis in hipster cafes, visiting the state capitol and walking along the river. (Hugo and Angel kayaked; Jesus and I watched). Later that night we went to another restaurant called Fonda San Miguel – recognised as one of the finest Mexican restaurants in the country. The dramatically lit building, surrounded by banana plants, palm trees and brightly coloured exotic flowers, was washed in light greens and blues and decorated with Mexican mosaics. The huge hand-carved wooden doors bounded by engraved stone welcome you inside to an interior full of hanging lanterns, warm colours, large plants, Mexican artworks and a lively atmosphere. The food was to die for. I had enchiladas de pato (duck), followed by pastel de tres leches (three milks cake), and finished it all off with café de olla, a sweet cinnamon coffee.

enchiladas de pato

I’m getting fat.

These were the three restaurants I enjoyed the most out of a week of good food. I will write about what else I got up to in my next post!


8 thoughts on “Texas – Part One: Good Food and Missing Passports

  1. Sam its good to keep in touch with some of what you get up to but I want to know how you keep so trim with all that food!!!! norman and Wendy x

    • Thank you! But I feel myself getting fatter and fatter with each passing day! I say I will exercise when I get home, but I’m not even fooling myself! It’s good to hear from you 🙂

  2. Texas sounds not too dissimilar to Glasgow – large people, love of deep fried food (ice cream, mars bars, pizza, black pudding, in fact anything can be deep fried I found)), wild country around….just substitute cowboy hats for ‘ned caps’ and you’d be there!

    • I’ve heard about the fried mars bars, and I kind of want to try one though I know I will feel so unclean that I will have to shower afterwards.

      You’re probably right about them being the same – they even had fried butter in Texas, but sadly I didn’t get to try it.Though I’m not sure if I would have survived after eating that anyway.

      I also ordered a seafood platter one evening, and EVERYTHING came out fried. Even the crab in its SHELL! I couldn’t eat more than a few bites.

  3. Sam I have already said that your whole trip seems to revolve round food!! Still it is good to see how other people live and and their culinary arts. I cannot imagine that you will come back the same size as you went, it is a good job that you can afford to put on a few pounds!! You are certainly having an educational trip and your cooking skills (which were good before you left) should be even better now – looking forward to sampling some ha ha Loads of love xxxxx

    • Nan, I have put on more than a few pounds – you won’t recognise me when I get off the plane! I am now obese. But I have learnt some new foods and recipes so I can cook you some nice stuff when I get back (in one week from today!) xx

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