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Written by Texas Highways

Henderson Sugar Cane 2014 39In the days before refrigeration and air-conditioning, East Texans relished sugarcane syrup for sweet relief from their arduous lifestyle.

Notice there is no category called “Dessert.” No category for cake, cookies, ice cream, or candy. Texans are very serious about one confection, and that’s pie. Give us a good pecan, peach, chocolate meringue, coconut cream, or buttermilk pie, and we’re a happy bunch.

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Courtesy NASA

Journey to outer space through the magic of cinema with Houston Cinema Arts Festival’s (November 12-19) new CineSpace short-film competition. The festival and NASA partnered to invite filmmakers to submit short films that are at least 10 percent comprised of NASA imagery and video. Filmmaker Richard Linklater judged the entries, and CineSpace will screen the best of them on November 13 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, along with other space-themed films and a presentation of Marco Brambilla’s Apollo XVIII art installation.

Festival of Texas Fiddling

The fiddle’s enticing lilt, chop, and shuffle play a prominent role in a wide variety of Texas musical styles, from Western Swing to Tejano, Polish, Creole, and others. The Festival of Texas Fiddling showcases this diversity with a lineup of fiddle performances and workshops November 7 at the La Bahia Turn Verein Dance Hall in Burton. Presented by Texas Folklife and Texas Dancehall Preservation, Inc., the festival starts at 11 a.m. and culminates with an 8 p.m. dance featuring Hot Club of Cowtown, masters of hot jazz and Western Swing.

Photo courtesy Stan Williams

Known as the “Father of Texas Botany,” Ferdinand J. Lindheimer (1801-1879) discovered a plant collector’s paradise when he arrived to the Texas frontier in 1836. The German naturalist, who ultimately settled in New Braunfels, was the first Westerner to document hundreds of Texas plants, including many now considered common, such as the Texas prickly pear (opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri). In New Braunfels, the Sophienburg Museum & Archives explores the naturalist’s life, times, and legacy in Lindheimer’s Texas, including displays of plant specimens he collected, his herbarium sheets, and period botany tools. Through May 2016.

Jackson Pollock 1956-1957 (Photo by Hans Namuth)

Abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) achieved fame in the late 1940s with his distinctive “drip paintings.” At the Dallas Museum of Art, Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots explores what came next: Pollock’s “black paintings,” a series of black enamel and oil paintings on untreated canvas created from 1951 to 1953. In its only United States showing, the exhibit includes 31 black paintings; works on paper made with enamel, ink, and watercolor; and five sculptures. The works immerse audiences in “Pollock’s complete oeuvre and shed new light on the experimentation and ingenuity that has become synonymous with his practice,” the museum explains. November 20-March 20, 2016.

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It’s a Texan birthright to argue for a favorite Tex-Mex plate and place. What all Texans seem to agree on is that Tex-Mex is simply the finest variation of Mexican food in existence.

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Of the many treasures bequeathed to Texas by European settlers who began arriving more than 200 years ago, perhaps the single most beloved is the kolache.

Village Bakery, West (Photo by Kevin Stillman)

Sadler's Kitchen Mac-n-Cheese (Photo by Kevin Stillman)

Never underestimate the comfort factor in a bubbling-hot crock of cheese-cloaked noodles pulled right from the oven. Best are versions incorporating a mixture of cheeses, topped with a crunchy layer of breadcrumbs.

Fisherman's Warf, Galveston (Photo by Will van Overbeek)

More than 600 miles of Gulf Coast landscape shapes one long, arching side of the state. And from those waters come hundreds of varieties of fish, from those favorite of the scaled sort—such as red snapper, black drum, flounder, mackerel, swordfish, and tuna—and plenty of shellfish, from shrimp and crab to oysters.

 

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The most popular dish among cowboys driving cattle to market, the chicken-fried steak began as a simple pounded steak—usually a cheap cut that the chuck-wagon cook tenderized with a good walloping—that was cloaked in flour, salt, and pepper, and then fried in a skillet.

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Texas comfort foods come in an amazing array of flavors. They also trigger a wide range of emotions. From the first bite of mom’s banana pudding with Nilla wafers at the family reunion to the welcome-home twang of cheese enchiladas in chili gravy after a trip out of state, Texas comfort food speaks to your soul.

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