29 January 2010

Texas, My Texas

Leaving Texas is always a little bittersweet, and my grand farewells always seems to conjure up random facts from childhood. After all:
  • Texas is the only state that was its own country (and is allowed to raise its flag inline height-wise with the stars and stripes as a result).
  • Texas IS the biggest state in the Union, isn't it? Alaska doesn't really count.
  • Texas must be a great place if its founders (Davy Crockett, Sam Houston) were actually defects from the now home of the other UT (Tennessee, that is).
  • And who couldn't love a state whose name appropriately means "friends"?
It also stirs up feelings of confusion as I once again claim my place as a Texan out of Texas:
  • No, not everyone in Texas has a twang.
  • No, I was not a GW supporter (though he was a great Governor!).
  • No, we do not ride horses to work.
  • No, I do not know Bobby or J.R.
  • No, not everyone carries a gun with them.
  • Yes, Texas is the best place on earth. Just ask any Texan and they'll tell you.
And without saying, leaving family and friends is always the hardest part. But with bags packed and good-byes said I've moved on to "greener pastures"...literally. We'll see what California has in store...

26 January 2010

Home Cookin'

Who says Texans only eat beef. Chicken, veggies, cheese, fish. You name it, we eat it all. But one thing is for certain...if you want to eat like a Texan, you gotta cook like a Texan.

Though any type of food is fa
ir game, there are certain standards by which every Texan must abide:
  • Raw isn't for fish...it's for your steak, bloody and rare.
  • Spicy isn't for curry...it's for the "Kick Your Ass" Cholula, tangy BBQ, and ground chilis.
  • Beans aren't green...they're brown, come in a can, and packaged for throwing straight on the grill.
  • Chili doesn't mean cold...it's the common cuisine for cookoffs, and the hotter the better.
  • Deer, dove, and duck aren't delicacies...they're what a friend shot last weekend and suitable for cooking over coals.
There's no room for steaming, poaching, and rendering in true Texas cuisine. Any method involving involving wood, coals, fire, or the associated by-products is standard. So move over ovens and ranges...smokers and coffin-size pits are the chosen vehicles for cooking cuisine in the Lone Star State. For Texans, it isn't what you cook that distinguishes you...it's how you cook it.

23 January 2010

Lubbock, But Don't Leave It

In response to one of my blog followers (I know who you are=), Lubbock, Texas truly deserves a closer look. Not a city you'd choose as a destination necessarily (unless you are a university student or cotton farmer), this mid-size West Texas city has much to tout.

Known as the hub city (just look at a map and you'll see wha
t I mean), Lubbock is circumferenced by farm towns and lies 6 hours from Dallas, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Oklahoma City, El Paso, and Austin. Bigger population-wise than Amarillo, Lubbock is the destination for thousands of smaller town residents in the vicinity. In fact, South Plains Mall sees hundreds of thousands of visitors every year...more than half of which are not from Lubbock.

But for those not depending on Lubbock for its close-by "big city" amenities, Lubbock is still worth the trek. Home to the Texas Tech University campus, the intellectual community (and college party mentality) is well honed. For those wanting a bit more sophistication than the local bar, we have Lubbock to thank for Texas' budding wine industry. Being ideal grape growing conditions that are duplicated in few other Texas cities, Lubbock's wineries are some of the best in Texas and provide the fruits of their labor to other wineries throughout the Lone Star State.

Recognize the names Buddy Holly, Mac Davis, or Dixie Chick Natalie Maines? All are from Lubbock. Harry Connick, Jr. even shows up from time to time: his wife is a Lubbockite, and his mother-in-law is famed sculptor Glenna Goodacre.

A word of warning, though...if you're running from the law do not go to Lubbock. Lubbock is the biggest small town you'll ever visit. Boasting over 200,000 residents, those who call Lubbock home know a little bit about almost everyone who lives there. Case in point: my husband just bought a duplex in southwest Lubbock. One of his tenants was his aunt's first-grade teacher and also worked with his stepfather for a time. The other tenant knows his best friend's dad, both being in the dermatological industry.

Big in size with a small-town attitude, Lubbock is a
n anomaly in its own right making both country bumpkins and city slickers feel right at home. And for those unable or unwilling to make the a trip toward the Texas panhandle, here's just a taste of what you'll be missing: http://lizzymcglynn.com/video/video.html

***Special thanks to Lizzy McGlynn for the use of her video!

20 January 2010

A Fort Worthy Destination

As much as Dallasites hate to admit it, their neighbor to the west has much to tout. The boot scootin' "Cowtown" of Fort Worth is much more than just cows and, well, town. It's a cultural center, artistic arena, and convenient for sports aficionados.

Anyone with an eye for the aesthetic knows that Fort Worth rules. With the Kimball Art Museum leading the pack, Fort Worth's art scene boasts extensive collections of American, Old West, European, and modern art. El Greco, Cezanne, Rembrandt, along with Georgia O'Keeffe, Frederic Remington, and Charles M. Russell, Fort Worth's permanent collection is one to be envied. And with reputation preceding itself, the stalwarts often make room for visitors like Andy Warhol or Paul Gauguin.

It's not only for art that Fort Worth does it big. Just take a walk into Billy Bob's and you'll see what I mean. Holding the title for world's biggest honky tonk, this bar and concert venue can accommodate more than 6,000 people and has hosted big-name performers like Willie Nelson, Pat Green, and Randy Travis. Complete with indoor bull ring where pro and semi-pro riders vie in competition, "big" is Fort Worth's biggest understatement when it comes to Billy Bob's.

For those who shy away from art and music, the proximity of athletic entertainment makes Fort Worth all the more appealing. Texas Motor Speedway lies on the north side of town hosting NASCAR, IndyCar series, and dirt track events. Just minutes from Forth Worth, the Ball Park in Arlington is home to baseball's Texas Rangers. And if NASCAR and baseball are not enough reason to make the trek west of Dallas, wildcatter Jerry Jones recently unveiled the Dallas Cowboys' new home less than 2 miles away from the ballpark. Endearingly called Jerry World, the state-of-the-art facility houses not only one of the biggest names in football, but the biggest LED display in the world. Yep, the west side of town definitely holds its own to its more cosmopolitan eastern counterpart.

But despite Fort Worth's appeal to music junkies, art enthusiasts, and sports fans, it still maintains a rich cowtown reputation. Mom and pop shops are plentiful, small-town hospitality abounds, and cattle drives through downtown twice daily hint at the heart and soul that earned it the name Cowtown.

Though I by no means submit to the mantra "Life's Too Short To Live in Dallas" (and yes, my former Fort Worthian roommate proudly wore this on his back from time to time), Fort Worth is a worthwhile destination for visitors and a must for metroplex locals.