Things you might not get when you move to Austin

In every region that I've lived, there's always something that locals are just crazy in love with that makes outsiders shake their heads. I've never eaten poutine or vegemite, and I'll probably keep it that way. I did try scrapple and pork roll in Philadelphia once, unfortunately at the same meal, and I didn't want to eat again the whole trip. Way too much greasy meat in my veins.

(The meal that did us in while visiting Philadelphia - pork roll, scrapple, eggs and potatoes. I get heartburn just remembering it)

Well - Texas has some peculiarities of its own. I know, you're shaking your head in disbelief. As one who has lived in Texas for half of her life, (and the other half deciphering other local cuisines), I'm in a unique position to be your ambassador to our customs. All of these have the common trait of burrowing into our hearts at tender young ages and remaining there for eternity, diet fads be damned. Newcomers just don't have that 12 year old Texan within them, begging his/her host body to stop eating spinach salads and try something fun!

  1. Big Red. I can almost guarantee that you're not going to like this Texas treat unless you are 8 years old. Imagine a soda that tastes like weird bubble gum, only injected with 1000 times the sugar than one should ingest in a day. Diabetics should keep this handy if they're ever in danger of going into a glucose coma. Big Red brings back memories of being a kid who has nothing to do all summer except swim, watch cartoons and eat junk food.
  2. Luby's Cafeteria. If you ever need a date to Luby's, call me. I am always up for this place. Every other native Texan I know is the same way. To my husband, it's just another cafeteria, complete with old blue haired ladies and watered down iced tea. Not so, I protest. You can get Jello! And fried okra! And this weird bacon and cheese chopped steak smothered in au jus! Luby's was mack daddy of awesomeness when all of us Texans were growing up. It usually meant Mom was too tired to cook and if we were especially good we could get dessert!!! When I was a kid it was still considered affordable, but alas, prices have gone up since the 90's when the original family sold the chain. I don't know if I'll be able to pass on this legacy to my kids. But after writing all this, I MUST HAVE LUBY's SOON.
  3. Whataburger. It's a fast food burger joint, which started in my hometown of Corpus Christi, TX but is now all over the state. You might think I'd be a member of the cult, but honestly I can't stand this place. My parents remodeled our kitchen with I was 10 and for some odd reason we ate at Whataburger almost every night for 3 months straight. Barf. Texans who have led a less scarred life than I believe this is the only burger worth eating. For what it's worth, I love their ad campaigns. But that's about it.

  4. Frito Pies. These are common at carnivals - bags of Fritos slit open, topped with chili, cheese and onions.
  5. Blue Bell Ice Cream - Even though I am now partial to Amy's, which is an Austin ice cream chain, I will always buy Blue Bell at the grocery store, just 'cause. Period.