Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Homesick Texan Q&A: Julie Powell

Today’s Homesick Texan Q&A is with Julie Powell. Julie’s year-long, online account of how a disenchanted temp found salvation by working her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, made her one of the first bonafide blog stars. She let it all hang out—chronicling her mistakes, her frustrations, her successes and her joys. And when I found out she was a Texan, I was not a bit surprised as her voice was chockfull of sass and spirit. While she no longer posts to Julie/Julia, it’s still up if you want to read it. Or you can check out her book based on the blog, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, which has just come out in paperback. She’s a busy woman—you can also see her byline in places such as The New York Times, Salon.com and Bon Appetit, and I hear she’s training to be a butcher (for a future book) with the evidence of her education on full display on YouTube. Here’s what Julie misses:

Where are you from? Do you still have family there? My husband and I are both from Austin, and both of our families are still there.

When and why did you leave Texas? I went up east for college after graduating from Austin High. I got a major in theater, so of course the logical next step was to move to New York to temp for seven years. We just never got around to leaving.

What do you miss the most about Texas? The least? There are all kinds of things to miss about Texas... the hill country, houses with yards, and of course the food. I even kind of miss the summers, because summers are pretty awful in NYC too, and at least Texans understand AC. I miss least being a beleaguered Texas liberal at the mercy of some the most rapacious politicians in the country.

What's your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Texas? What do you order? It's hard to pick one favorite Tex-Mex place, there are so many, and my parents are always discovering new holes in the wall. I love Angie's for breakfast—fantastic homemade corn tortillas, I get the migas. And Juan in a Million is pretty great. Enchiladas, enchiladas, enchiladas.

What's your favorite barbecue place in Texas? What do you order? Again—the brisket runneth over. We often go to Poke-Jo's on West 5th, because it's close to where my folks live. I most often get the sliced-beef sandwich with a side of fried okra, oh heavenly fried okra. My husband is nuts for the sausage. When we get out to the world-famous Salt Lick, I get the beef ribs.

Your chili: beans or no beans? NO NO NO beans! To even ask betrays a disturbing tendency toward heresy.

When you go to Texas, and you go to the grocery store, what's the first thing you grab that you can't get where you live? Hatch green chiles. Religious Experience hot sauce. Ro-tel tomatoes.

What's your favorite place to eat Texan food where you live now? How does it compare to the real deal? The pickings in New York for Texan food are pretty pathetic. Blue Smoke does some creditable ribs and they serve Weller bourbon, so if you squint you can almost buy it. As for Mexican food, forget about it. There are a couple of holes-in-the-walls in the west thirties, and some Asian-owned Mexican fast food joints can do a passable fajita taco, but that's it.

I hear you on the NYC-barbecue front, but squinting doesn't always help. And don’t get me started on the state of Mexican food in the city. Ah well, many thanks Julie! Now my mouth is watering...48 hours in Texas wasn't enough!

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matt said...


I had no idea she wsa from Texas, but of course now it all makes sense :)

I sensing that as Texans we don't like beans in our chili? Is this a safe assumption?


GREAT POST! And I can't wait to try the crackers :)

Yvo said...

Another shout out for the Ro-Tel! I do wish I could get my hands on some now. They sound so interesting and well, versatile in the way of cooking!

PS I read her book and am slowly working my way through her blog online. I'm grateful she didn't take it down and her publishers didn't make her take it down- there's so much more in the online version than in the book. I didn't know she was a Texan, though!

Traci said...

I'm glad a seasoned foodblogger loves rotel as much as I do. Do you people mean to say you can't find rotel at a grocery store that isn't in the south??

Homesick Texan said...

Matt--You betcha, perhaps it's time to retire the question, I don't want people thinking I'm a heretic afterall!

Yvo--You can buy Ro-Tel at Kitchen Market in Chelsea (8th Ave and 22nd). Also, I hear it's sold at Key Foods in Brooklyn.

I know! I love that her blog is still up...you can start at the beginning and read it all the way through. Sort of like doing a DVD marathon of a show you missed when it was originally on TV. No anticipation but instant gratification!

Traci--Ro-Tel is a hard-to-find, specialty item here in the Northeast, I don't know why.

Anna said...

I am a HUGE fan Julie Powell's book and blog (and your blog too, of course :) ). I am so happy that you had a chance to speak with her and post the interview. Thank you!

Yvo said...

Ro-tel, here I come.....!

Homesick Texan said...

Anna--You're welcome!

Yvo--If you get a can, let me know what you make with it.

vlb5757 said...

I am glad that I am not the only Texas who knows that BEANS are to be refried and not in chili!! Cracks me up how we square up on that point.

tbsamsel said...

Now the movie is about to come out..

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