Saturday, September 02, 2006

Music to my ears

I’m often asked the question: “Where is the best place to get Mexican in the city?” To which I reply: “La cocina de Homesick Texan.” OK, I admit, I’m of French and English descent, and when I’m cooking Mexican what I’m really cooking is Tex-Mex. And while Diana Kennedy would probably disparage most of my dishes, if you’re looking for true Tex-Mex flavor I’ve got a lot of it covered. But the key to any Tex-Mex meal at my place is this: A CD called “15 Early Tejano Classics.”

Did you ever see “Lone Star?” I love that movie, for obvious reasons, and everything about it just works on so many levels. I’m not here to talk about the movie (not today, at least), but right after seeing it at the movie theatre way back in 1996, I crossed the street to the CD shop (when people still bought CDs) and bought the soundtrack. It’s a fine mix of all kinds of Texas music, but the tunes that really touched me were the Tejano ones by Isidro Lopez and Freddie Fender. I kept replaying them over and over, so I was overjoyed when I found the Tejano Classics CD: a whole album of nothing but Tex-Mex music. What was it about these songs that charmed me? Easy answer: no matter where I was, the music instantly transported me to a place: a lazy afternoon spent in a Tex-Mex greasy spoon where the hot sauce and chips were bottomless; a place where the sizzling-hot Texas-sized platters overflowed with cheesy enchiladas smothered in chili sauce, a couple of crispy tacos and a beef tamale wrapped in a corn husk, with the whole plate embraced between small oceans of rice and beans; a place where there was always a woman in the center of the restaurant patting out flour tortillas that the waiters would bring to you still warm nestled in a straw basket lined with cloth; a place where the only dessert options were sopapillas with honey or pralines (or both if it was your birthday); a place where the soundtrack was songs like these, Tejano classics.

Before I learned Spanish, I could sing along with these songs--I’d heard them all my life. Songs of love and longing, and even if you don’t know the language it’s easy to figure out what the word corazon means. If you don’t have any Tejano in your collection, this is an excellent place to start. And when you listen, hopefully you’ll feel instantly transported yourself. Trust me, it’s great music to listen to while serving your friends a batch of cheese enchiladas.

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UnGourmetGal said...

Have you been to Joe T. Garcia's in Fort Worth? That was my introduction to tex-mex when I moved to Texas. They make a mean cheese enchilada.

Danielle said...

Okay, I'm ready to head over for tex-mex. (Actually, wouldn't it be fun to have NYC food blogger potlucks?)

Homesick Texan said...

Goumet Gal, I LOVE Joe T. Garcia's! I hardly ever make it to Fort Worth, but when I do that's first on my list.

Danielle, a potluck does sound fun!

Anonymous said...

Yes. Tex-Mex. I'm really thinking about this.

(I know that the post is about the music but I'm stuck on the first paragraph... and the idea of some homemade Tex-Mex oustide of Texas.)

Do that NYC Foodbloggers Pot Luck. Set it up. Find a venue that isn't a home. (I'm in Chicago and I wanna come.) Ask MattBites what he thinks... he seems to know many things. I'll wrangle some sponsors. Maybe we get a charity involved. Let's make this some kind of cool (delicious) event celebrating the love of expatriate Texans for their home food.

The NYC Food-Bloggers Pot Luck.

Hell, let me have the rights to it and I'll promote the ANNUAL event. We can bring in some good Texas entertainment... Willie's still alive... Good Food, Good Booze, Good Music... Get a boot company as a sponsor (and others). Food companies. Spirit providers. Internet/Blog providers. Bring in some judges... you guys would know who. A Texas Good Time.

Do we get rich? No. Does the event pay for itself? Yes. (This part of what my company does.) Can we help a charity? Yes.

This is getting me excited. A little bit of Texas on the Hudson. (I'm in NYC all the time... the though of some good food is really firing me up.)

We someone to be the "chief NYC Food-Blogger" - actually that's a bad title but we need a Foodie/New Yorker/Texan to head be a leading figure.

Maybe I'm crazy.

Yes... crazy.

Anyway... it was a nice few minutes of thought. Damn... I want to back to South Texas. I have to figure a way to generate non-Texas revenue while living there. But, alas, I live elsewhere.

I suppose I could fly back and forth.

Lake County Clerk

melissa mcgee said...

joe t? an old haunt of mine when i lived up in dallas. totally worth the drive to fw. downed many a margarita and many a combo platter... delish.

lonestar? one of my all time favorite movies. ever. i saw it first run in the theatre 7 times. if i needed another reason to LOVE you, that would be it. i didn't need another reason, though.

by the way, i hosted a going away party for a friend of mine friday night- poor thing, she moved to OKLAHOMA this morning. as a reminder of her home, we had way too many shiner bocks, and of course, i drank one or three for you.

matt said...

What an amazing post.

Your description of food just gave me a million goosebumps and now, at 6:34 in the morning, I want to run out and eat an insane amount of Tex Mex. RIGHT NOW!

I'm going to look for this's almost too painful to listen to Tejano or Conjunto music at home, my eyes tear up and I want to be back in Austin!

Homesick Texan said...

Lake County Clerk, you're very ambitious!

Melissa, Oklahoma's not so bad, heck--it has teepee rest areas, "Don't Drive into Smoke" road signs and a catchy song.

Danielle said...

Lake County Clerk - I was thinking of doing it small at first, and opening up my home to whoever wanted in. I have a small apartment in Park Slope, but we can fit a decent number of people around a table in the living/dining room.

Maybe posting on Sticky Date and IMBB to see who is interested, then pass out the date and address and organize who plans to bring what. I don't mind taking charge of organizing - that's the only way to get things done!

If you want to do something bigger, in a not-home venue, I'd be delighted to participate, but less inclined to be a sole organizer. I don't mind the cat herding, but I'm not fond of negotiating with venues and such. But if you want to do that part, it's all good as far as I'm concerned.

I don't want it to be a Texan thing, though. Just a NYC food blogger thing. (I was born here, after all. ^^)

Murray said...

Hi. I'm commenting on a post that is a year-and-a-half old. Anyway I wanted to say two things:

1. Great blog. I grew up in Amarillo and it's nice to find someone who misses the culinary parts of home and can espouse on the great parts of the Lone Star State without getting all wrapped up in everything else.

2. The Lone Star soundtrack is what introduced me to Conjunto Bernal and their amazing song "Mi Unico Camino." I've been in love with 1930s-60s Tejano ever since hearing it over the opening credits. I celebrated my birthday a couple of years back at Mi Tierra in San Antonio and couldn't resist requesting the song when the mariachis came by my table in the bar. They almost didn't know how to play it.

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