Monthly Archives: January 2012

Observations from a Tex-a-sotan

Part of my intention with this blog was to not only chronicle places or activities, but to look at the differences of culture. I often find myself saying things like, “You don’t do that here?” or “What’s a (insert random New England phrase/item)?” It’s hard to be a Tex-a-sotan (someone from both Minnesota and Texas) and really not take pause sometimes. Here are a few things that I’ve noticed that I find fascinating about living in New England and what people have experienced or say, compared with the South and Midwest:

Lone Star in a Bottle

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If you’ve visited Texas or live there, you know that Lone Star beer is a staple. I’ve always thought of Lone Star as a beer on par with Natty Light or Keystone. It’s a lighter beer, mostly found in the can, that is pretty easy on the wallet and by the time you get to the bottom of the can, you probably don’t want to drink it anymore. At least, that was my perception after having lived in Texas for 15 years. (Apologies to any die hard Lone Star fans out there that disagree with this assessment.)

When I got to Boston, I found that Lone Star is only sold in the bottle. Now maybe I missed something along the way, but I had never seen Lone Star in a bottle. It seems so much classier – and it definitely stays fresher longer in bottle form. However, it just threw me for a loop the first time I experienced it. Thank goodness we get Lone Star though, since you can’t get Shiner up here (don’t even get me started on that).

What’s Frito Pie?

About a month ago, I got an e-mail from a friend asking me what Frito Pie was, as a friend tried to explain it to her and she was baffled. Of course, I confirmed the existence of the amazingly delicious treat, and upon asking around, found that East Coasters don’t know what the dish is. Seriously, friends. You’re missing out.

For those who are not aware, Frito Pie is a bed of Fritos with chili and cheese poured on top. It’s commonly found at sporting events especially high school football games. One of my favorite Texas bloggers, the Homesick Texan, has a great recipe for Frito Pie. I’m copying the link to her blog to give this dish true justice, as I don’t know if I can really describe it in words.

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The Coke/Soda/Pop Debacle

What do you call a soda pop? You know, the fizzy water with sugar and other flavors in it? Well, in New England, you probably call it soda. If you say soda anywhere around the country, you’ll be universally understood. However, as most Texans know, the word “coke” describes the same thing. Coca-Cola is a product made in the South, and the generic term for a soda in Texas is coke. So essentially, you can order a coke at most establishments in Texas and they will ask you what kind. I say most places, because I can’t guarantee that it’ll happen but it does happen a lot. Or it’s used in conversation.

Now in the Midwest, it’s called “pop.” My entire family says pop – and I’ve had to explain to guests or new visitors to the area what that means. It’s not that people in the Midwest don’t know what soda is, they just prefer to say pop. There is actually a running project called Pop v Soda, which tracks what regions say each particular phrase. It’s fantastic, and I’ve included the infographic below (which appeared on the blog FoodBeast) to give you an idea of where people say what term.

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There are always more phrases or items that truly stand out to me – and remind me, I’m not a native New Englander. However, I’m absolutely rooting for the Pats in the Super Bowl. I might not be from here but I can definitely jump on board the Brady train.  

If you have experienced culture shock in New England, or are curious about understanding the Southern/Midwestern variety, tell me about it below!

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Restaurant Review: Sweet Cheeks Q

Courtesy of Sweet Cheeks Q Site

As a former Texan, I’m cursed. No really. I have incredibly high standards when it comes to barbeque and Tex-Mex/Mexican food. The Bostonians I’ve met are always willing to provide recommendations for places to try – places that they LOVE. It’s hard to for me to try these and then report back that I didn’t really like them. (Honestly though, since I’m half Southern/half Mid-Western, it’s really tough for me to tell someone I didn’t enjoy their favorite BBQ joint as much as they did.)

I’m not saying that I have never found Mexican or BBQ that I liked, it’s just really hard to compare to the source. It’s the same with Boston’s seafood or clam chowder. There is probably no way that you’d find such incredible dishes in the South or Mid-West. It’s just not what they’re known for.

However, I was incredibly excited to find out that former Top Chef contestant Tiffani Faison’s had helped start a restaurant that focused on Texas-style BBQ, I was over the moon excited to try it.

Despite having to wait about 20-30 minutes to grab a table, I came pretty hungry – and the food came quickly! My table started with the homemade biscuits which came with honey butter, the hush puppies and fried okra. The biscuits were my absolute favorite part of the apps we ordered, with the fried okra coming in second. It just reminded me of being in Texas and I couldn’t get enough.

For my main course, I had the ribs with black-eyed peas and potato salad. The ribs were really good – and Sweet Cheeks provides three different sauces on every table: hot, traditional and vinegar-based. I went with the traditional but if you like spicy sauces, you’ll probably enjoy the hot version.

All in all, the trip was awesome. The wait was absolutely worth it, even if at the time, I was dying for food. I loved the atmosphere. Even the bathrooms were funky, as the woman’s contained framed photos of Dolly Parton, burning candles and a sticker vending machine.

I’ll definitely be returning for a BBQ fix and hopefully, comparing it to a few other joints in the area like Blue Ribbon. Next time, I’ll try to save room for dessert. The key word being TRY.

Update: This post was originally written in early January. Since that time I have been back to Sweet Cheeks, and tried the pork belly (OMG) and the pecan chocolate pie turnover (whoa!). All I can say is that I ate way too much – and it was still totally awesome.


Not Your Average Resolutions Post

A new year brings hope of new beginnings and those always inspiring resolutions. Well, I don’t actually like making resolutions because I always found that I break them. Instead I prefer to set goals for myself. (I’m sure it all seems like semantics but to me, it’s actually easier to set goals that can be checked off throughout the year.)

For How I Met Your State (HIMYS), I am always talking about visiting places or doing things around Boston but have never actually kept a running list. Until now! The following is my resolutions or goals list for HIMYS 2012 edition.

Note: These are in no particular preference or priority order.

Food:

  1. Blue Ribbon
  2. Firefly
  3. Erbaluce
  4. Orinoco
  5. Regal Begal
  6. Giacomo’s
  7. South End Buttery
  8. Bee Hive
  9. Silvertone
  10. The Capital Grille

 Places/Activities:

  1. Harpoon or Sam Adams Brewery Tour
  2. Bunker Hill
  3. Visit Maine or Rhode Island
  4. Boston Public Library
  5. Marathon Monday
  6. Fall Foliage/Leaf Peeping
  7. Corn Maze
  8. Haunted Boston Bus Tour
  9. Celtics or Bruins Game
  10. Institute of Contemporary Art

Here’s to another great year! What other places or restaurants would you recommend? Leave your recommendations in the comments section. And may your year be filled with adventure!