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Eating Under the Radar

Written by , published March 20, 2009

For the July 2007 issue of TH, I wrote a story about the hour-long Hidden Kitchens Texas (HKTX) radio special that debuted on NPR a couple of years ago. Produced by The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with KUT in Austin and narrated by Willie Nelson, the program described under-the-radar kitchens across the state, from a Dallas gas station that serves great tacos to the NASA lab in Houston that develops space food. It was fun writing about that project, and now I have an update: At a SXSW party in Austin a few nights ago, Nikki Silvia and Davia Nelson, aka The Kitchen Sisters, launched a new book based on the rollicking audio program, complete with colorful photos and recipes.

Physically, Hidden Kitchens Texas is a small book, about six inches square and only 120 pages, but it's packed with stories about "tiny kitchen cultures, big cooking rituals, unsung kitchen heroes, kitchen traditions on the verge of extinction," and more. The chapter about Stubb's Bar-B-Que, in which musicians Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely, and Joe's wife, Sharon, reminisce about the Lubbock roadhouse that was a gathering spot for the emerging Texas music scene in the 1970s, spurred a few memories of my own. I saw Joe Ely perform for the first time at the original Stubb's in the early '80s. I don't remember the barbecue very well, the joint was so dark that you could hardly see your plate, but the music was great, and I've been a Joe Ely fan ever since.

It just so happens that the ongoing Hidden Kitchens series (which inspired the breakout Texas radio special, which, in turn, inspired the book) aired the Stubb's segment on NPR this morning. You can listen to it, along with other installments in the series, and also order the new book, at the Kitchen Sisters' Web site.

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