According to Renaissance woman and Pepper Lady Jean Andrews, although food is eaten as a response to hunger, it is much more than filling one’s stomach. It also provides emotional fulfillment. This is borne out by the joy many of us feel as a family when we get in the kitchen and cook together and then share in our labors at the dinner table. Food is comfort, yet it is also political and contested because we often are what we eat—meaning what is available and familiar and allowed.
Texas is fortunate in having a bountiful supply of ethnic groups influencing its foodways, and Texas food is the perfect metaphor for the blending of diverse cultures and native resources. Food is a symbol of our success and our communion, and whenever possible, Texans tend to do food in a big way.
This latest publication from the Texas Folklore Society contains stories and more than 120 recipes, from long ago and just yesterday, organized by the 10 vegetation regions of the state. Herein you’ll find Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Family Cake, memories of beef jerky and sassafras tea from John Erickson of Hank the Cowdog fame, Sam Houston’s barbecue sauce, and stories and recipes from Roy Bedichek, Bob Compton, J. Frank Dobie, Bob Flynn, Jean Flynn, Leon Hale, Elmer Kelton, Gary Lavergne, James Ward Lee, Jane Monday, Joyce Roach, Ellen Temple, Walter Prescott Webb, and Jane Roberts Wood. There is something for the cook as well as for the Texan with a raft of takeaway menus on their refrigerator.