Tex-Pats

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul celebrates book tour launch Cinco de Mayo style with some new Tex-Pat blogger friends.  Guest stars: Homesicktexan, 52books, FromMe-ToYou

FromMe-ToYou Jamie inspired by Frida Kahlo

Texans living in New York are a curious breed.  While we chose to run away from life in the Lone Star state for a chance to prosper in the Big Apple Circus, we invariably harbor nostalgic feelings for our homeland.  Despite the fact that there’s something missing from our Texas experience—something different for each of us that made follow our dream up North—we invariably act as if it’s the greatest spot on earth.  We wear our passion for Texas on our sleeve, or on a t-shirt, and breathe a sigh of relief when we meet others in the (T)ex-pat club.  It never seems to matter that if we met each other in Texas we would have divisive issues like Dallas vs. Houston or UT vs. A&M.  All that melts away on the mean streets of Manhattan where we all agree that Austin is amazing and none of us voted for George Bush.  We’re instant members of a Lone Star Alumni Association, every bit as clubby as those Ivy League snobs.

Paloma Picasso in Behind-the-scenes photos from the book

When I first moved to New York in 1996, I primarily met other Texans through friends or at parties.  But in the age of social networking, I’m meeting this powerful posse online—and we are still as supportive as ever.  I’ve written about my chance encounter with FromMe-ToYou.Tumblr.com’s Jamie whose photography I adore.  And as I continue to expand my network as I get out word about my book Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life I just starting reaching out to fellow Texas bloggers who might enjoy my tale of moving to Manhattan as a gay Mary Tyler Moore.  Mind you, these are folks I’ve never met, or spoken to, but when they got an invitation to a Cinco de Mayo inspired celebration of a book by a fellow Texan—they were in!  I love that sense of adventure—and trust—that our shared love/hate from our home state must make us peas in a pod.

Mexican Chef and Homesicktexan

So this past Sunday, I was thrilled to meet Lisa from Homesicktexan.com whose recipes are wonderful reminders of the kind of cooking hard to find north of the Red River.  She showed up with a hostess gift of homemade Bacon Jam—a Texas girl after my own heart.  She told me that people are constantly asking her if she’s moving back to Texas.

“If I did that, I wouldn’t be the Homesick Texan anymore.  What would I write?” she laughed.  Her popular blog is indeed so engaging, it would be a loss for all of us readers.

I wish Frida would start her own blog

Another new instant-Texas buddy is Laura from 52books.tumblr.com, a fun blog that chronicles her one book a week review project that has developed a huge following.

“It’s funny, I started the blog really as a way to keep in touch with my Dad in Texas who is a huge reader.  And then it just took off!” she said in that classic aw-shucks but totally proud Texas way.

Naturally, we don’t all just talk Texas turkey all the time.  Once we get out of the way the classic “no way, your grandparents lived in Wortham?  My uncle ran the hospital down the road in Mexia!” chatter, we move on topics more important like addiction to Wendy Williams and Glee.

Invariably, talk turns to how we’ve adopted some Yankee ways.  And for me, that means adding dishes to my repertoire that don’t just feature casseroles with Velveeta cheese and desserts with Cool Whip.  On Sunday’s Cinco de Mayo fiesta, I proudly unveiled a Rhubarb Tart with Orange Glaze.  Granted, this dessert has nothing to do with the Mexican holiday celebrating an obscure victory over the French in 1862, but everything to do with my assimilation of my Texas and New York identities.  It’s a recipe from Gourmet—a magazine I never knew existed down South since I pretty much only took inspiration from Southern Living.  And the central ingredient is Rhubarb.

“I’ve always been a little distrustful of rhubarb,” Homesicktexan Lisa said when I brought out the tart.  “We never had it in Texas.  I always thought of it as something from the North, too bitter.  But this is good.  Just enough.”

That’s what I love about Tex-Pats—we may be distinctly proud of our Lone Star heritage, but we’re willing to embrace all that’s on offer in the Big Apple, while holding onto that optimistic spirit.

See Rhubarb Tart with Orange Glaze, From Gourmet, April 2009.  My additional tips:

  • Squeeze orange juice and lime juice with a hand juicer—a must in any Mexican-inspired kitchen like my life with Chef
  • Rhubarb—I prefer to slice only the area that is the most red to give the tart color, and make sure to slice thinly to give just hint of the rhubarb so it’s not so tart

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Tex-Pats

  1. Wonderful gathering of talented people! I’m so glad to all be in the same tex-pat club together and what an easy coming together that entails!

  2. I am a Tex-Pat as well (found you through From Me To You), but I am living on the opposite coast in Seattle. I have to say I can completely relate to everything you said, and I think it is just a tex-pat thing. I had to get out out of Texas to REALLY love it. I had to move to a blue state so I could appreciate the many amazing things about Texas. I could probably move back to Austin (it IS amazing after all), except that heat keeps me away. I am a Native Houstonian, but went to UT Austin and wear the burnt orange proudly up here. I have made a few Tex-pat friends here as well and feel more comfortable with them than others because they *know*. They know that edgy homesick feeling that isn’t quite enough to make you want to move back, but still makes to realize what a fantastic place Texas is.

    • Good to know that burnt orange feelings run from coast to coast! Thanks so much for sharing. Hopefully we can meet if I make it to Seattle on book tour!

      • Angela

        I love the picture of Frida . . . that one needs to be added to a frame and hung on a wall in the house.

        And I love Marissa’s comment that the heat keeps her away from Austin — I totally agree but also include the humidity — I never had a good hair day down there.

      • I’d definitely love to meet up if you make it to Seattle! I’d even be happy to cook for you. Or at least introduce you to some Seattle culinary institutions.

        I drive around with the horns on my rear window, but sadly Bevo did not completely make it through last winter’s ice scraping 😦 he lost a little flesh to that!

        And Angela, AMEN. But being in Seattle I didn’t escape any humidity 😉

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