Thursday, September 20, 2007

Things I've learned, episode 1: Texas

We've been in TX a year and I have managed to learn a bit about state, as well as a good deal about San Antonio. Contrary to the concern expressed by not a few folks back in CA, we didn't land in a little cow town filled with rednecks and arch-conservative oil industry WASPs.

In no particular order:

-We've checked the figures and it IS most certainly true; Texas is freaking gigantic. They have land here, and lots of it. It amazes me to drive to the inside of the 1604 loop (more of the freeways here later) and find 1+ acre lots of land. There are even large lots to be found further in. The developers here are still able to build out, rather than up.

-Texas, at least central Texas, is a remarkably green place. I was expecting a much more arid climate here. I realize there are parts of Texas that fit that description, but San Antonio is nicely green for most of the year, dormant lawns notwithstanding.

-Texans are proud of being Texans. Now this is an interesting point. Two days ago I was tooling around the city in my car and I heard the latest of the "Real Men of Genius" commercials on the radio. Now, those of you who know me understand how it causes me honest to goodness pain acknowledging Bud Light (or any other pilsener) as beer, but let's face it, the RMG ad campaign is fucking hilarious. The ad salutes Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy and it's an unnervingly accurate representation of a certain contingent of Texans. RMG Of course, most of the Texans who fit this description likely attend Cowboy Church. (I honestly wish I could say that was enough on that subject but as easily imagined, I'll make my way back to Cowboy churches shortly). However, most of the folks if met out here do not fit that rather colorful description. Point in fact, most of our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances out here aren't even from Texas, let alone San Antonio. We've met some natives, and they're all amazing people, but by an large, San Antonio is as much a transplant city guessed it, San Diego. We've met plenty of people who really like it here, but not nearly as many of the "Don't mess with Texas" variety as we'd feared. I will say that Texans are more cohesive than Californians. Texans tend to stick together in a way that I didn't see in California. As much as I'd like to crack a joke about that, I think I'll just say we really like it here, and have met some amazing and friendly folks.

-Mexican food. Oh boy, Mexican food. We've found one (1) restaurant in San Antonio that serves food that we'd identify in a line-up as Mexican food. All of the others (yes, all) serve food that resembles Mexican food to varying degrees. Some indicators you are eating Tex-Mex rather than Mexican food: your refried beans have no cheese on them (this vexes my daughter immensely), your beef tamales are filled with ground beef with only a hint of seasoning (they call it picadillo beef, I call it...well that's not really important), your beef chile relleno, assuming you can find one will be served with ground beef, your beef taco will be filled with ground beef. Are we seeing a pattern here yet? Oh, the enchiladas, NO RED SAUCE FOR YOU!!! Your enchilada sauce choices are verde (excellent), brown gravy (huh?), or...chili con carne (WTF?)! Yes, many places here serve enchiladas covered in watery chili. The mind boggles. There is, however, a silver lining here, two of them, actually. The first is that Texan Mexican restaurants almost invariably make excellent beef fajitas. My personal theory is that making fajitas is close enough to BBQing for Texans to get into it. The other silver lining is the Los Robertos on Bitters Road, just west of the 281. It is an honest to goodness, Mexican Taquería! There we can enjoy our favorites, from tacos and tamales filled with seasoned and SHREDDED beef or pork, huge carne asada nachos plates, or even carne asada fries.

-BBQ. Texans kick some serious ass when it comes to making BBQ. Rudy's, Grady's, and a host of other restaurants (not including Bill Millers, the McDonalds of BBQ) serve up outstanding BBQ every day of the week.

-Drivers here and the freeways they abuse. Really only two points of interest here. Yield signs. Some demented city planner decided it would be fun to pepper the cloverleafs and off-ramps with yield signs. This is problematic since San Antonio drivers seem to have only the loosest grasp on yielding. Related to this is the issue of merging and weaving. Simply put, this is apparently a much neglected topic in Texas driving classes.

Churches. This is definitely the place for a person who has an affinity for big-ass churches. The churches here are not as in-your-face as churches I found in Arkansas (after 15 years I still remember the "Not making it to church, if Satan can't make you bad he'll just make you busy" sign we stumbled onto in Rustleville). However, there are certainly a LOT of them. The most interesting phenomenon though, would be the Cowboy Churches, or Cowboy worship. I'm not going to put in any direct link because, well I really don't want to encourage that particular flavor of strangeness. However, if you're interested in attending a cowboy church, or just interested in sharing with me an amused if slightly nervous chuckle, then just Google "Cowboy Church". You'll see what I mean in short order.

More later.


CL said...

Oh, my dear friend, you have SO hit Texas on the head. Dead on and dead to rights, you have it, my good sir!

I have little of value I can add to this wonderful soliloquy on Texas-dom.


Jason said...

Haha! Cowboy Church. This unique group of ministers reach out to their own, farmers, ranchers, cowboys, horsemen, rodeo contestants, and their families. The best one there "RODEO CONTESTENTS" hahahahahaha

Thanks B!

Alison said...

My coworker sweears that everyone who is native to Texas has the added name of BOB or Jo (usu for females...)added to one's name.. like Billy BOB...
now, noting that you're not a native Texan, would that make you Brennan Bob and Michy-Jo? Evie Jo... now there ya go!!

Is this true though??