Editor’s Letter: The Food Issue

When it comes to food, Texas seems to be most closely associated with BBQ. It makes sense that giant helpings of meat would be a serious point of pride in a state where everything has to be bigger. Yet, Mexican food and specifically our take on it, Tex-Mex, is perhaps an even more representative cuisine.

After all, our official legislature-approved state dish isn’t a plate of brisket, sausage, and ribs; it’s chili con carne. And our official, yes, legislature-approved, state snack is tortilla chips and salsa, which is actually a Tex-Mex creation that has found its way onto the table at more traditional Mexican restaurants. (Fun fact, while doing this research, I discovered that the official state snack of Utah is Jell-O and the official vegetable of Oklahoma is a watermelon (!), which strike me as good reasons to be grateful that we live in Texas.)

And let’s not forget that at a 1976 campaign stop at the Alamo, when then President Gerald Ford was running for his second term against challenger Jimmy Carter, he nearly choked when biting into a tamale with its corn husk still in place, a cultural blunder that probably cost him the election. “The Great Tamale Incident,” as it came to be known, dominated the national news for days; Carter subsequently won the Texas electoral votes, and the presidency.

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