Texas Food Truths BuzzFeed Has Failed to Understand
Look, I haven't been mad at clickbait-style headlines or websites in years. They're a part of the landscape now, as ingrained as motorized vehicles and sliced bread. So I'm not mad at you, BuzzFeed. But here's the thing: Y'all just don't know Texas—or at least the Texas that exists outside of Austin—a truth made abundantly clear in an article called "19 Food Truths Only Texans Understand." And the fault doesn't lie with the format as much as it does with the under-researched nature of the Food Truths themselves.
Putting aside for now the idea that Austin and its food scene is somehow representative of the entire state, let's instead focus on the fact that not everything in Texas is the same. My West Texas relatives in Abilene sound nothing like my East Texas relatives in Tatum, who in turn produce a very different style of barbecue than our kin in Central Texas, all of whom have a very different understanding of the breakfast taco than our kin down in the Valley. Texas is bigger than France; can you imagine telling a Frenchman that all Gallic cheese is the same? People have gone to war over less (namely cod).
Yes, it's true that Whataburger is terrific (BuzzFeed Texas Food Truth No. 9) and that queso is "everything" (BuzzFeed Texas Food Truth No. 5), but the list falls apart from there. Brisket isn't better with sauce unless you're eating it in East Texas, where you're more likely to encounter it in chopped form anyway and where a sweet, tomato-based sauce is tradition; in Central Texas, putting sauce on your brisket is just rude, an implication the pitmaster doesn't know how to smoke or season his meats. Torchy's makes an okay taco, but calling theirs the best in Texas is hilariously ignorant and a blatant indication that the author has likely never consumed a taco anywhere outside of Austin, or anywhere that doesn't employ a social media manager. (Though beans in chili may still be up for debate.)
A few more things: Sour cream on breakfast tacos? That might be an Austin thing, but it's not an anywhere-else-in-Texas thing. Sweet tea isn't even a Texas thing at all; it's a Southern thing. Big Red? This is Dr Pepper country, by gawd. That giant black box brisket comes out of is called a smoker or simply a barbecue pit, never a "fire pit." And whatever that photo in BuzzFeed Texas Food Truth No. 3 is supposed to represent, it's not Tex-Mex. (Ed. note: An eagle-eyed reader points out that the photo is of "flauta de papa with pumpkin seed and tomatillo sauce," which sounds delicious but also lacking in either cheese or chile gravy and therefore not Tex-Mex).
In my mind, the fault lies in the fact that BuzzFeed junior staff writer Farrah Penn left Texas for Los Angeles in 2013 and has perhaps been unduly influenced by the West Coast food scene. She just needs a refresher course, that's all. I propose BuzzFeed send Penn on a reverse junket of sorts, allowing her to be reacquainted with the food of her former home. I'll even take her out for tacos—or at least, the Bayou City version of tacos, breakfast or otherwise, filled with juicy barbacoa from Gerardo's and crispy-creamy mollejas from El Tacambaro and slippery nopales from Laredo Taqueria.
Come back to Texas, Farrah Penn. In the immortal words of Bowling for Soup, the Mexican food sucks north (and west) of here anyway.