Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tex-Mex in the Times (and more)

I apologize for the silence. I've been a bit stressed and sad as my 17-year-old cat Lily has a lemon-sized tumor on her side, and today I find out the prognosis. For a cat her age, I've been warned it's not good. I have some green pork chili I'm eager to share with you but until my mind is more settled, here are some links I've been savoring from the recent papers:

  • The New York Times has a celebration of Tex-Mex written by a non-Texan, a job I would have gladly offered my services. That said, my favorite restaurant from childhood, Herrera's in Dallas, receives major kudos and the author quotes Robb Walsh, so I'll cut the Times some slack. Have you ever been to Herrera's? I have fond memories of lining up with my parents outside this Maple Avenue hole-in-the-wall back in the '70s, where after passing through the kitchen you'd find yourself at a tiny table piled high with tamales, Crazy nachos and enchiladas smothered in brown chili gravy and orange cheese. This place is a classic, and Herrera's definitely helped define my Tex-Mex palate.

  • Also in the Times is a look at legendary editor Judith Jones. If you're not familiar with her, she shepherded into print classic books by authors such as Julia Child, Claudia Rosen, Edna Lewis and Marcella Hazan. She has a new memoir out this week, and if you're in New York, she'll be doing a reading and a wine tasting at Bottlerocket tonight at 6:00.

  • October has been deemed official chili month, and while I've been a bit of a laggard about posting about the state dish of Texas this year (though I wrote a series of posts about Texas Red last October), you can read about the saga of Texas chili and Terlingua in today's Dallas Morning News.

  • Speaking of Robb Walsh, he shot me an email yesterday letting me know about a shrimp war he and Houston Chronicle food writer Allison Cook are waging in their respective papers. Here's what started the skirmish, to quote Robb: "Alison Cook, my counterpoint at the Chronicle, describes people who like the iodine-like flavor of Gulf brown shrimp as 'a perverse subset' of humanity." Dem's fightin' words indeed!

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Pamela from Austin said...

Oh, my, how I love El Mirador! So glad it made the NYT article. Their mole is to die for and they have equally wonderful margaritas (I like mine shaken over ice and served straight up). For anyone who's never been there, I highly recommend it; I much prefer it to the widely touted haunts like Mi Tierra. Also high on the list in SA -- Rosario's.

The 20th of this month marked a year since I lost my black and white Java (about the age of your cat). We had battled kidney disease with me giving her IVs daily, but it was a tumor behind the eye that was the last straw. I STILL miss her, even though I have another cat. Java was an old soul and the tabby I have is more like a toddler at heart -- we just don't connect in the same way. I empathize with what you're going through.

Susan said...

I am so sorry to hear about Lily's tumour and illness. Our companion animal friends lives are far too short and we miss them so incredibly when they're gone. I lost both a cat and a dog over the last 2 years - they both happily lived healthy lives until very near the end and they both (Ernst - the cat and Emma Jane Louise - the dog) lived to be very senior animals at 14 and nearly 16. We'll be thinking about you and saying a little prayer for both you & Lily.

xo from Nova Scotia

Don Ray said...

Sorry to hear about your cat. It is easy for these daily companions to become a very importan part of our life.

Thanks you for the links today. As I was walking through a local super market today, I saw a packet of Old El Paso Enchilada seasoning. I grabbed it , a pound of ground beef and some cheddar cheese. Talk about desperate.

In Panama, I just can't find good Tex-Mex food.

jeffrey said...

El Mirasol is a very good. The weekend soups are legendary.
Rosarios is right around the corner and also has excellent and a little more adventerous offerings.
Los Barrios is also highly thought of by Locals.
If anyone needs a list i can think of about 10 places right off the top of my head.
Nice to see Tex Mex getting some recognition.
I love "real" Mexican Food also but the two can coeexist as per Rob .
First official cool day in South Texas here and that means the first pot Of Carne Guisada is on.Would love to see your version of it.
So sorry to hear about your loss.

nika said...

*hugs* for you and the kitty. We will be thinking of you.

I loves me some gulf shrimp .. whats this weirdness about iodine shrimp?

There is simply NOTHING like going to Port Aransas and buying live gulf shrimp right off the boat or even buying it off the back of a truck in San Antonio.. ahh.. missing Tejas.


Megan said...

I'm a brand new reader of yours, a native Houstonian who, three years ago, left behind my four dogs and two cats to come to Chicago for college. Your blog so far has been superb in terms of comfort food and combating homesickness. I'm sorry to hear about Lily - my own fifteen-year-old Lydia at home is having thyroid problems. Good luck, and I hope things work out. Thanks for the taste of home, and keep it up!

Jenni said...

I LOVE LOVE Herrera's....I'm impressed that it got mentioned in the big city! Yummmm.....

Jason said...

I relocated to NYC from Dallas about a year and a half ago. Herrera's is definitely in the top 3 Tex-Mex restaurants in that city. The Nora's Plate - Guacamole Chalupa, Beef Taco, Cheese Enchilada, Sour Cream Chicken Enchilada, Beans & Rice may be my favorite combo plate in Texas. Their chips and salsa are as good as anywhere else, too.


She sure is strange! said...

Oh no, I am so saddened to hear of Lily's illness. I am rooting for her as my own Soshie slips away from me. She ate a metallic streamer a few weeks ago, passed it and seemed to be on the mend. Now she is at death's door and we don't expect her to last the week. It is hard to lose them.


Olivia said...

Not your cat as well? Nikkipolani's cat just had one diagnosed also.
She is keeping her comfortable, wrapped up in a blanket by the hearth. I hope you can help Lily be peaceful too.

Texas Espresso said...

::hugs:: I am so sorry about your kitty. They are such a blessing while you have them. My heart goes out to you.

I LOVE Herrerra's. been awhile since I've been there but I've waited in that same line many many times. hehe

YAY TexMex!

Pille said...

I'm sorry to hear about Lily - hope you two can still have good quality time together..

Luisa said...

Sorry to hear about your kitty...

Amy said...

So sorry to hear about your kitty! I hope everything works out okay!

That photograph is making me so hungry! I live in California now where there is no good Mexican food that I can find. I was back home in Texas last weekend and filled my belly in San Antonio.

Jennifer said...

Also sorry to hear about your cat. Take your time, as those of us who follow your blog understand and aren't going anywhere.

Carrie said...

I'm so sorry about Lily. I know this must be so hard! I hope things get better soon! That Tex Mex looks super yummy!

Lydia said...

Sorry to hear about your cat. It is always hard as our beloved pets get older. Sending good energy your way.

Julie said...

I'm sorry about Lily. It's hard to go through illness with a pet and losing a pet is such a heartbreak. You and Lily are in my thoughts and I hope your news from the vet is better news than you're expecting.

ann said...

UGH. Sending you good kitty karma. Sorry to have missed you last night.

Mike said...

Need a napkin...not for the dripping cheese...but for the drool...(tried to find the exact link at the DMN..article/blog re: "your favorite Tex-Mex". Herreras obviously mentioned...sorry)

For me, it's has to be gosh-awful for me not to enjoy my staple no matter where I end up...cheese enchiladas (additional fresh chopped onions on the side please), rice and beans....end of story....oh, forgot the Tecate x 2

Now, back to that pic I go....

Susan said...

Darn it! October, huh? And I was gonna make chili last week for my blog and changed my mind.

I'm sorry to hear about Lily, Lisa.

Melissa said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Lily. Sending hugs your way!

Kate said...

OMG ...I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. Hope everything goes well, n she recovers. U try n keep your spirits up !

Cynthia said...

So very sorry to hear about your cat. :(

YGBSM said...

I liked the Time's piece on Tex-Mex, and am glad that I live in the heart and soul of Tex-Mex: San Antonio.

Emily Yoffe offers a bit of perspective on your beloved cat at Slate that can be found here:

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your cat; I'll be hoping for the best for her. I completely commiserate; I have three cats, and two of them are about that age, and both are starting to weaken. One has diabetes (we actually give him shots of insulin twice a day), and the baby girl has hypothyroidism and keeps getting other ailments. It's heartbreaking.

Can't wait to see your green pork chili. I didn't realize it's "official chili month"—wonder if I can get on that before the month is gone!

nikkipolani said...

So sad to hear about your cat's tumor. My 19 year old cat was just diagnosed as well - smaller tumors but the prognosis isn't great. Spend time with Lily and send her my love.

Homesick Texan said...

Pamela from Austin--I have to admit I've never been to El Mirador (or if I have, it was a very long time ago) but I can't wait to try it next time I'm in SA. And thank you, I can understand still missing a beloved bet years after they're gone--hopefully you and your new cat will connect better someday.

Susan--Thank you. And I'm sorry to hear about your loss--two in one year is tough but it sounds like they had long happy lives.

Don Ray--In a pinch, I reckon Old El Paso isn't too bad--when you're away from home you have to take what you can get!

Jeffrey--Looks like I need to take a trip to SA soon! And I love carne guisada--will try to post about it soon.

Nika--Thank you. And who knows where this debate came from--Gulf shrimp are the best! You brought back memories of my dad and his buddies going to Texas City (or some town near Galveston) to buy pounds of shrimp right off the boat--nothing ever tasted fresher, sweeter or finer.

Megan--Thank you, and when I first moved away for college I left my childhood pets at home with my parents--it was rough being away from them as they aged.

Jennie--Did you know that Herrera's was in a National Geographic article about 20 years ago? It's no stranger to shout-outs from the big city.

Jason--Yep, as someone who grew up on Herrera's, I agree it's in top 3 in Big D. Good stuff that you just can't find here in NYC.

She Sure is Strange--Thank you, and I'm sorry to hear about Soshie. Big hugs! Y'all are in my thoughts.

Olivia--I'm spoiling Lily to death right now--anything to keep her happy and comfortable. I'm so sorry to hear about Nikkipolani's cat. It's tough when our animal friends get sick.

Texas Espresso--Thank you. And yes, I have fond memories of the line too--well worth the wait!

Pille--Thank you.

Luisa--Thank you.

Amy--I'd think California would have good Mexican food--but I reckon it doesn't taste as good as SA.

Jennifer--Thank you so much.

Lydia--Good energy received! Lily is staying happy and comfortable. Thank you.

Julie--Thank you. The news was OK (no cancer) but she's too old to be a candidate for surgery to remove the tumor.

Ann--Thank you. And sorry I missed you too at both events this week. Let's get together soon!

Mike--Yep, cheese enchiladas are impossible to live without--which is why I taught myself to make darn good ones at home.

Susan--Yep. Better hurry! And thanks.

Melissa-Hugs received! Thanks, Melissa.

Kate--I'm trying as hard as I can! Thank you.

Cynthia--Thank you.

YGBSM--What an insightful article, thanks for the link. And lucky you to live in SA--no shortage of excellent Tex-Mex there!

Lisa--Isn't it heartbreaking when they get sick? But you know this when you bring them into your life--and just cherish all the good, healthy years. Your cats are in my thoughts. Hugs! And my green pork chili post will be up soon.

Nikkipolani--Olivia mentioned your kitty wasn't doing well--I'm so sorry and y'all are in my thoughts.

Jennifer said...

I love your blog,especially your amazing food photography!

I live close to Herrera's on Maple and go there all the time. It is still as great as you remember! They've published their bean soup recipe, so you may already have it, but just in case...

Herrera's Bean Soup

(from Herrera's in Dallas, Texas)

1 lb. pinto beans, rinse, pick over, and soak overnight
4-6 slices bacon, chopped
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped(if you don't like heat, seed it)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped (I use about 1/4 of a bunch)
4 cans chicken broth
2 1/2 cans water
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee bacon until crispy. Remove from pan and drain. Leave a little of the bacon grease in the pan and saute the onion, peppers, and garlic until tender. Pour everything into a large stew pot and simmer until beans are tender. Turn off heat and stir, mashing some of the beans against the side of the pot.

Mercedes said...

I'm so sorry about your cat, I know how pets can be part of the family.

AT said...

Oh Lisa, I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. My own geriatric kitty just turned 15 this fall, and every day that he's healthy, I'm grateful for. Please keep us updated.

Mike said...

Boss indicated we're headed to Mena's Tex Mex for our holiday party come the middle of December...eager to try a new joint,97400&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&item_id=25027

Miss Scarlett said...

Awww....hugs to your poor Kitty. My little furball is still young and spry, but if anything ever happened to her I would be LOST. I will say a prayer for little Lily.

Olivia said...

And now I hear about my hairdresser's 21 year old cat not doing too well either.

How is Lily?

Tommy said...

I hope at some point you can do a piece on Gulf shrimp. Real Gulf shrimp. You have been talking about it for some time now I reckon.

As a consumer you want to be real careful when buying seafood, and the recent ban by the FDA on all Chinese orign shrimp will attest, you should use extreme caution.

It pains me to see honest fisherman in the Gulf put out of work because behemoth food corporations like Red Lobster or Long Dong Silver want to fill you a bucket of shrimp for under six bucks.

Here is link you shrimp lovers might enjoy.Remember always keep in good with your fish monger.Your life might depend on it.

Homesick Texan said...

Jennifer--Thanks for the recipe, I can't wait to try it! Anything with bacon is always a big hit at my house.


AT--Thanks and will do.

Mike--I used to live in Carrollton when I was a little kid--let me know how Mena's rates.

Miss Scarlett--Thank you.

Olivia--Lily's better. I'm not going to put her through surgery, but she's acting normal otherwise. We'll see what happens. And how sad about your hairdresser's cat, though 21 years is a long time to live!

Tommy--I know, I know! I need to write about my favorite shrimp. And you're so correct about being careful with seafood--I only buy domestic/locally caught fish. Thanks for the link to the informative article.

bj said...

ooo, I'm sorry to know your cat is ill. Blessings and prayers to both of you.

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