Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Homesick Texan Q&A: Matt Armendariz

Most readers of this blog are probably already familiar with today’s Homesick Texan, Matt Armendariz. But if you have never visited his gorgeous, entertaining and informative blog Matt Bites, stop reading this and go there now! From his amazing photography to his great sense of graphic design, his blog looks delicious. But beyond just being a pretty face, Matt’s writing is also brilliant—be it side-splitting humorous or head-nodding insightful, he always has a point of view. As for his photography, where to begin? He’s a master of composition and light, but beyond that he always creates a sense of place; his photos reveal a world I’m always thrilled to visit. And yes, I’d still be a fan if he wasn’t a Texan but since he is, here’s what Matt misses.

Where are you from? Do you still have family there? I was born in Galveston, Texas and raised in Austin. My grandparents are from Chihuahua, Mexico. With the exception of a sister in Ipswich, Masschusetts, all of my family is still in Austin.

When and why did you leave Texas? I left Texas in 1992 and moved to Chicago. I was working for Whole Foods Market and was part of the team that opened the midwest region. It was only supposed to be temporary–I've been gone ever since.

What do you miss the most about Texas? The least? I miss the spirit of Texas, the sense of pride in being a Texan and everything that goes with it. Particularly I miss the quirkiness of Austin and the weird, alternative vibe. And Whataburger. I cry myself asleep at night thinking about Whataburger. I miss least Texas' attitudes towards gays, lesbians and transgendered people. Sometimes my home state's views on equal rights is abysmal. I hate to get so political, but it chills me to think that a state as great as Texas isn't as forward-thinking as others. It's 2007, get with the program.

What's your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Texas? What do you order? Mi Tierra in San Antonio. My parents have taken us there our entire lives, and just when I thought it couldn't get better they added a huge painting of Selena over the bar a few years back. How could you go wrong? As I'm most likely to do when I'm back home eating Tex-Mex, I always order any "combinacion" on the menu. I want it all. I'll order the largest platter and always eat the entire thing, whatever it is.

What's your favorite barbecue place in Texas? What do you order? Oh goodness, between City Market in Luling, Kreuz, Salt Lick and Iron Works it would be truly impossible for me to select a favorite. I always go straight for brisket and ribs, everything else is just secondary. It's an out-of-body experience every time I go home and have barbecue.

Your chili: beans or no beans? Absolutely no beans. Ever.

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? I'll have to buck the question as I always grab a handful of things simultaneously. They are always the same:

1. Those small tiny pecan pies in the wax wrapper whose name currently escapes me
2. Big Red or Dr. Pepper soda
3. REAL TEXAS FLOUR TORTILLAS and not the large, rubbery California versions
4. A six-pack of Shiner Bock (even though I can get that here now)

What's your favorite place to eat Texan food where you live now? How does it compare to the real deal? Unfortunately I have yet to find anything that comes close. I can appreciate regional cuisine on its own merit and have learned to accept that I must travel back home to get my chorizo and egg tacos, my queso and my brisket. Being in Los Angeles isn't too terribly far, but when I'm craving my favorite barbecue I might as well be on planet Mars. Sad, but true.

I love those little pecan pies, too. That coupled with a bottle of Big Red picked up at the U-Tote-Em and you had a meal! Thank you, Matt—I'll be dreaming of Whataburger and a Mi Tierra combo platter tonight!

Are you a Homesick Texan? If you'd like to share with the world what you miss, e-mail me at homesicktex (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Jann said...

Great to read.....found this sight on cream puff...happy cooking!

melissa mcgee said...

hehe. matt is one of my favorite boys on the planet.

Yvo said...

I'm on his site right now... awesome. I love having new sites to read :)

But... he can't get Big Red or Dr. Pepper in Chi/LA? O_O Or am I reading that wrong?

vlb5757 said...

Three cheers for Whataburger!! They are my favorite burgers! When I go through a town close to my mother's house, it's a MUST to stop there and have a Whataburger with a strawberry shake. Okay, I have to go eat now...

Anonymous said...

What an awesome idea, to interview other homesick texans!

Ari (Baking and Books)

Homesick Texan said...


Melissa--I can see why!

Yvo--He's talking about Big Red the soda, not the gum. And you can't buy that many places outside of Texas.

VLB5757--Every time I hear the word Whataburger, I just drool. Boy, I wish they'd open in NYC.

Ari--Thanks! I've met some cool people by doing this series of Q&As.

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Love Matt's site and love yours too. What a nice combinacion!

Homesick Texan said...

Christine--Awwwww, you're making me feel all warm and fuzzy. I love your blog too!

el jefe said...

Um i too am a home sick texan and would love to know exactly where you can the Shiner you speak of? is this NYC? oh I'm drooling just thinking of it.

jonorann said...

Love you, cousin Jonathan In ABQ New Mexico!

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