With the subtitle The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook With More Than 200 Recipes it is clear that this cookbook is devoted to Texas food. Texas Eats, broken into several food based parts, is for folk foods and not haute cruise. It also is a history book providing lessons in the history and culture of Texas.
After an acknowledgement page and a two page introduction, the book begins with “Part 1 Lone Star Seafood.” After a brief introduction to “The Coastal Bend” on page 1 it is onto various chapters relating to seafood. Along with large sections of history about the region that includes historic pictures, there are the recipes based on Texas history and culture. This is where recipes from “Baffin Bay Seafood Sauce” (page 8), “Grilled Oysters On The Half Shell” (page 21), “Stingaree Barbecued Crabs” (page 41) among others are found. While there are plenty of interesting pictures documenting the history, there are very few pictures of any of the dishes. Nutritional information beyond the number of serving is also lacking. This same format continues throughout the book.
Starting on page 60 “Part II East Texas Southern” continues the same format as it works through various biscuits, cornbread and other dishes. “Sage Breakfast Sausage” (page 72) is here as is “Country Meat Loaf” (Page 79), “Mama Sugar’s Sweet Potato Cobbler” (page 91), “Mayhaw Jelly” (page 96), and “Pickled Watermelon Rind” (page 100) among others.
It is on to San Antonio and points south and westward in “Part III: Vintage Tex-Mex.” Beginning on page 102 and reflecting the deep Spanish history in the state are recipes for ”Classic Chili Con Carne” (page 111), “Green Rice” (page 115) “Charro Beans with Bacon” (page 133) and various types of taco among other dishes.
A bit north of section III is the Hill Country and Central Texas which is famous for among other things, its old world heritage. “Part IV: Old World Flavors begins on page 144 and is devoted to that history and culture. Whether it be “Hill Country Goulash” (page 154), “Claudia Matcek’s Poppy Seed Kolaches” (page 165), or the “Turtle Soup” (pages 174-175) made famous by the Menger Hotel in the late 1800’s there is something to try here.
“Part V County and Western” takes in far Southwest Texas, the Panhandle, and parts of North Texas from Fort Worth north and west. Not only do you look in this section for a chicken fried steak recipe (includes various gravies), but this is also where you look for “Shade Tree Ribs” (pages 212-213), “Lolo’s Brisket Tacos” (page 218), and “Gary Beam’s Stuffed Burgers” (page 230) among others. This is also where you learn to make the mandatory burger staple “Onion Rings” (page 234) or “Cheese Fries” (page 235) along with a number of dessert recipes.
One can always tell a newcomer to Texas by the way they mispronounce things. They may be able to say “Paris, Texas” right, but will always mispronounce “Mexia.” That is the subject of “Part VI New Texas Creole” with recipes based on cities and towns named for places immigrants left behind when they came to Texas. “Fran Mancuso’s Texas Sugo” on page 258 kicks things off and is quickly followed by various recipes such as “Sicilian Cauliflower Salad” (page 259), “Texas Pho” (Pages 265-266) and “Kaiser’s Steak Tikka” (page 276).
The nearly 300 page book closes with a resource page, a photo credit page, a two page bibliography, and a six page index.
Definite drawbacks with the book are a lack of photographs of the finished dishes as well as a lack of nutritional information. While there are plenty of suggestions on how to make the variations of various dishes there are no suggestion about how to make healthy versions.
Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook With More Than 200 Recipes is a good book that is more of a history textbook than a cook book. The definition of the various regions is somewhat arbitrary, but the explanation of the history of each area and the state as a whole is extensive and detailed. Sure to please natives and newcomers alike, the book is a valuable resource not just to kitchen cooks.
Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook
Food Photography: Laurie Smith
Ten Speed Press (Crown Publishing/Random House)
Paperback (also available as e-book)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library system.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2012