The History of Texas Cuisine
If your imagination goes no further than beef, beef and more beef when you hear the words “Texan cuisine,” you’re selling the Lone Star State short. To truly understand Texas food, you need to know more about the land and the people. With the greatest landmass of any of the 48 contingent United States, Texas boasts a varied landscape that includes coastline, plains, desert and mountain regions. The people are as varied as that landscape, making up a fusion of 27 ethnic/cultural groups, each stirring their own ingredients into timeless, uniquely Texan recipes that include gourmet food for every palate from savory to sweet.
Tex-Mex: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Texas!
Traditional Mexican dishes have heavily influenced Texan cuisine. The state’s southern neighbors, often limited by simplistic cooking methods and ingredients they had on hand, learned to be very creative with what they had. Beef, venison, pork, goat meat, chicken, eggs, cheese, milk and beans were combined with corn masa, chocolate, peppers, onions, garlic and spices to form hearty, flavorful and filling dishes. The most famous example of Tex-Mex food is chili con carne (that is, “chili with meat”), which is the state dish.
Texas Barbecue & Smoked Meat Gifts
Barbecue in East Texas reflects more Southern and African-American traditions, while barbecue in the Texas Hill Country draws heavily on the smoked sausage–making customs brought by a wave of German settlers, beginning in the early 1800s. East Texas ’cue is often served dripping with a sweeter-profile sauce than that found in the Hill Country, where smoke is a dominant seasoning and sauce (on the side) isn’t nearly as sweet. Then there’s chicken fried steak with white gravy, a staple of Texas cafes from the Panhandle to Brownsville, and El Paso to Texarkana. The basic idea is the same — a pounded piece of lean, tough beef, battered and fried — but with regional differences within that basic technique. French immigrants from Louisiana introduced influences from Cajun and Louisiana Creole cuisine.
Surprising someone with smoked meats gift baskets by mail is a good way to introduce a friend or family member to something more exotic than they may usually get for the holidays. Pittman & Davis Smoked Turkeys pack flavor as big as the Lone Star State itself. A smoked turkey gift basket containing our Smoked Boneless Turkey Breast with Orange Chipotle Sauce is another fabulous, spicy treat in the Cajun tradition.
GTT: Gone to Texas
“Gone to Texas” was a phrase used by southern Americans who emigrated to Texas during the 19th Century – people who took their cooking customs along with them. Emancipated African Americans used southern culinary traditions to enhance inexpensive cuts of meet with wild game and fish, and adding hog jowl, salt pork, peppers and spices to greens and legumes to create intensely flavorful dishes, including fried chicken and catfish.
Contributions From Eastern & Western Europeans
European settlers also contributed to the evolution of Texas cuisine. Strudel (which, along with Pueblo Indian-inspired sopapillas, is the official state pastry of Texas) came to the state via European immigrants: English, French, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, German, Polish, Scandinavian and Austro-Hungarian. Many of these people arrived in Texas by way of the Deep South, and brought with them culinary influences of that region, like peach cobbler and pecan pie. Pecans, which are the only commercially grown nut in Texas and are native to most of the states river valleys, go into a variety of amazing Pittman & Davis treats, such as our Texan Whole Halves Pecan Pie (perfect when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!), Sugar’N Spice & Everything Pecan (made in the Southern tradition), Butter Toffee Mixed Nuts (highly addictive!), Pecan Divinity (a unique treat) and Pecan Pralines (a holiday favorite). Served warm with cream, Pittman & Davis’s Peach Streusel Cake is a wonderful tribute to Texas peach cobbler, while our German Chocolate Cake offers another delicious nod to Texas’s German influence – one that includes pecans and Mexican chocolate!
Texas Likes Sweet as Well as Spicy!
In the tradition of the amazing desserts listed above, Pittman & Davis also offers our best-selling Yellow Rose Lemon Cake for sale! The Yellow Rose Cake has a flavor every bit as big as the state where it’s made, and is worthy of its name. We at Pittman & Davis are confident when we say this is the best mail order lemon cake you’ll ever taste, and it makes a fantastic gift, too. Perfect for dessert, brunch or tea, this lemon cake gift is so tempting you’ll want to arrange a lemon cake delivery for yourself, too!
When enjoying a meal in Texas, you reap the benefits of a culture rich in diversity and history that is unmatched in the United States. Can’t make it to Texas? Check out the above (and more) Texas-inspired gourmet foods from Pittman & Davis!