Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at at time.

Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at a time.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Clothing, tolerance, diets, vegetarian barbecue explored in Texas

Four years ago, when my daughters were in a Mother's Day Out program at church, a particular Thursday was Western Day for my daughters' class. Being the Texas woman and mother that I am, no discount knock-off western wear would do, so I went to a specialty store to make sure my babies were appropriately attired.

Y’all might think pink pearlized lizard and turquoise Ariat Fat Baby boots with matching belts are a little excessive for a pair of four year-olds, and you’re probably right. But my babies are Texans, and they’re not just any Texans, they’re seventh generation Texans. I had to do it right.

As I was shopping, I overheard another mother chatting with the clerk about an event she was about to attend that required western attire.

“I’m from California, so I don’t really wear this kind of stuff, but this is an upscale barbecue, never mind that I do not eat meat,” she nattered…and I tried real hard not to upchuck. “Upscale barbecue?” Really?

The clerk, a saint, helped her find something that didn’t make her look too much like Sparkle Plenty and listened with infinite patience about the woman’s macrobiotic vegan diet and how she was stuck in this backwater of Central Texas.

The California gal made me think of the Gretchen Wilson song, “California Girls,” the lyrics of which proudly state:

“Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls

Ain't you glad there's still a few of us left, who know how to rock your world

Ain't afraid to eat fried chicken and dirty dance to Merle

Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls”

Aside from the copious use of bad grammar that makes me want to scream, the thing about dirty dancing to Merle and the fact that Ms. Wilson is from Illinois, I do share the sentiment.

I realize that not all Californians are out of a bowl full of granola, meaning that what aren’t nuts are flakes. I fully realize that Californians are as unique and individual as anyone else on the planet and that to judge all of them by the one high-maintenance diva is wrong.

But, y’all, she really was the walking stereotype, and I imagine I’ll garner a wave of hate mail after this blog is posted.

Non-Texans are a continuous source of amusement to me. There are three varieties of non-Texans: one kind is the Yankee, the word “Yankee” usually preceded with a six-letter epithet that cannot be repeated here. The second kind is the Texas Tolerater who is here for reasons other than choice, but pretty much does not care one way or the other about what we do here or why we do it. The other is the “Gone Native” which is the non-Texan who sports the bumper sticker on his truck that reads: “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could.”

Yankees either make me laugh or tick me off. They hate Texas; they put the state down and complain about living here. To that, I say, “Go home. I’m tired of hearing the belly-aching.”

Toleraters accept Texas quirks and Texans as they are, ignore the weirdness, and move when the opportunity presents itself.

Gone Natives are sweet about being from out of state. Gone Natives make up for not having been born here by becoming “super Texans” and completely embracing Texas culture just as it is, even the stuff that shouldn’t be embraced. They won’t admit to being born out of state.

My favorite Gone Native has to be David Crockett. Born in 1786 in Tennessee, Crockett came to Texas in 1835. He had lost an election for a seat in Congress, at which point he told the people in his district, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” That famous phrase currently can be seen on bumper stickers, coffee mugs and T-shirts to this very day. Crockett, of course, probably regretted the decision to come to Texas. He was killed at the Battle of the Alamo less than a year after his arrival.

Texas can be a little hard on its newcomers.

Nevertheless, Gone Natives really try to love Texas. I appreciate that. I am touched that they find something to love about this wild, dangerous, strange place. I like that they overlook the media-driven prejudices to find that Texas has a lot to offer beyond a low cost of living.

As for the Vegan Queen, I really have to cut her some slack. She dropped a good chunk of change on some pretty nice stuff and was making a decent effort to blend and embrace something she thought was truly Texan. I think there’s hope.

In Miss California’s honor, I learned that there is such a thing as vegetarian and vegan barbecue. There are a number of recipes available on the Internet featuring dishes such as grilled eggplant teriyaki and tofu/potato kebabs. Most of the recipes sounded pretty good. Considering that a diet full of too much red meat can contribute to a host of health problems, I’m considering adding some of these dishes to my outdoor celebration repertoire.

GRILLED EGGPLANT TERIYAKI

Serves: 6

• 2 medium-large eggplants, about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds total

• Teriyaki Marinade (recipe follows) as needed

• 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

• 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced

• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Slice the eggplants 1/2-inch thick and peel. Salt them and let stand in a colander for 30 minutes, then rinse well. Prepare grill. Brush the eggplant slices generously on both sides with Teriyaki Marinade. Grill on each side until nicely browned and tender (5 to 10 minutes on each side, depending on the heat of the coals). Remove and let cool slightly on a cutting surface. Cut into strips and place in a serving container. Stir in the scallions. Add enough additional Teriyaki Sauce to moisten and flavor the eggplant to taste. Sprinkle the top with the red pepper dice and sesame seeds.

As for the tofu/potato kebabs, you’re on your own. I don’t mind the occasional chunk of tofu hidden in a dish, but I’m not going to actively seek the stuff out at the grocery store. Chalk it up to my stereotypical Texas attitude toward things that just don’t sound all that…natural.

Bon appetite, y’all!

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