Texas, the state and former nation, has a long and proud tradition of independence, especially when it comes to its food. It makes no difference if the meat is beef, pork, chicken or wild game -- Texans have their own way of preparing it, and they're always right. Texas chili, for instance, is always served without beans, with toast that's cooked on a pan, not in a toaster. And while Texans have any number of ways to cook meat, they hold a special place in their hearts for beef.
If beef is important in Texas, the Texas longhorn is king. The semiwild bovines are the result of escaped Spanish and Portuguese cattle breeds living in the Texan-Mexican environment and mixing with ranchers' northern European cattle.
While Texans will never forget their state's history, such as the Alamo, they also remember their culinary history. Tex-Mex, a name borrowed from the Texas-Mexico railroad line, blends and borrows northern Mexican dishes and cooking techniques with American ingredients. Beef sausage and fruit pastries borrow from German and Czech migrants, and the state's beloved BBQ can trace its roots to the influx of freed slaves following the end of the Civil War.
Texan Culinary Cuisine
Borrowing from the Lone Star State's iconic anti-littering campaign phrase of "Don't Mess With Texas!" an equally iconic slogan could be created for Texan food lovers: "Don't Mess With Barbecue!" The state dearly loves its slow-cooked pork and beef with spicy rubs -- unless you're in the other part of Texas, where savory sauces and quick-seared ribs reign. Suffice it to say, Texas likes its barbecue. A lot. Texan BBQ was even served to 35 Latin American ambassadors by President Johnson in 1967, an event that was part of his drive to end hunger in the developing nations.
Not all food in Texas is BBQ, though. There is also the popular kolache, a folded pastry with fruit filling introduced to Texas by Czech migrants. Caldwell and West Texas both claim to be the "kolache capital" of the state and, since it is Texas, there's room enough for them both. German migrants brought over sausage, which Texans quickly began making with beef.
Culinary Schools in Texas
Texas culinary schools are as much about the fresh fruits and vegetables (even if they are peppers) and quality presentation as they are about slow cooking a brisket or the best methods of barbecuing. The importance of wild game, such as deer and rabbit, is not lost in a Texan culinary education, nor is how to make the perfect side of potato salad.
Notable chefs from the state such as Tim Love, Fort Worth's beloved chef, or Kent Rathbun combine both the Texan heritage of beef and barbecue with globally inspired dishes such as lobster shooters or kangaroo tenderloin nachos. Restaurants such as Central 214 in Dallas aren't afraid to push the traditional Texan buttons with vegetarian dishes from New York (or even vegan dishes). Texan culinary graduates can expect to find many restaurants throughout the state to further their culinary education in the Texan traditions of slow-cooked meats, spicy peppers and savory sauces, as well as the time-honored tradition of doing it their own way.
For information on cooking and culinary schools in Texas, please visit any school below to request more information.
Texas Department of Transportation - Don't Mess With Texas, 2013, http://dontmesswithtexas.org/history/
Dallas Fort Worth CBS, "Best Celebrity Chef Restaurants In Dallas / Fort Worth," October 19, 2010, http://dfw.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-celebrity-chef-restaurants-in-dallas-fort-worth/
Arthur Bovino, "Best Barbecued Brisket in America? Is Franklin Barbecue in Austin America's best? You'll have to wake up early to find out," The Daily Meal, May 2, 2012, http://www.thedailymeal.com/franklin-barbecue-early-bird-gets-brisket
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Calvin Trillin, By Meat Alone: The best Texas BBQ in the world, The New Yorker, November 24, 2008, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/24/081124fa_fact_trillin?currentPage=all
Gerald E. McLeod, "Day Trips: The Kolache Capital of Texas is worth a visit," The Austin Chronicle, August 10, 2012, http://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2012-08-10/day-trips/
Donald E. Worcester, "Longhorn Cattle," Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/atl02
Layne Lynch, "Three of America's Best New Restaurants Are in Houston," Texas Monthly, February 21, 2013, http://www.texasmonthly.com/eat-my-words