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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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