The economy’s in the red and so are the temperatures. What do you do when you could cook a burger on the grill or the pavement? Stay inside, crank the A/C, crack open a cold one and lay your peepers on some good literature. What do we mean by good? Books dealing with Texas of course. Here are 3 reads we here at Explore find entertaining, fun and straight up interesting. And when you’re done, you might want to go flip that burger before the ants get to it.
TEXAS LANDMARK CAFES
Great Texas Line Press (March 8, 2007)
The perfect book for people hoping to avoid homogenized chain food and discover some great eats wherever they travel in Texas. Author June Naylor tells you where knowlegeable locals eat, and what they know will be good at Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Babe’s in Roanoke, Snoopy’s in Corpus Christi, Perini’s in Buffalo Gap and, among 60 others, Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit in Marathon. Sized to fit your jean’s pocket or glove compartment.
Don Strange of Texas:
His Life and Recipes
Shearer Pub; First edition
Yeah it’s a cookbook. But that’s not all. San Antonio catering company Don Strange of Texas, known across the state as the king of caterers, has earned a reputation for serving delicious, freshly prepared food with imaginative flair, even at events attended by thousands of people. From its humble beginnings more than fifty years ago as a small grocery store and meat market on the edge of town, the business has evolved into an empire of catering venues with a diverse client list that includes entertainment celebrities, corporate moguls, and organizers of charity galas.
This remarkable story is told by Frances Strange, whose husband was the driving force behind the company’s success Don Strange himself. Through engaging personal anecdotes spanning the caterer’s entire career, she reveals Don’s innovative genius for finding new ways to cook and serve party foods as well as his dogged persistence in meeting the logistical challenges of feeding huge crowds under adverse conditions. What emerges is a portrait of a down-to-earth family man who built a first-class catering operation through sheer hard work and relentless perfectionism, an unerring eye for detail, a steadfast dedication to customer satisfaction, and a showman’s sense of fun and surprise.
The author has included more than one hundred of the caterer’s most popular recipes, adapted for the home kitchen by noted chef Terry Thompson-Anderson. Full-color photographs illustrate selected dishes as well as the caterer’s signature serving style.
THE BIG RICH:
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GREATEST TEXAS
Penguin Press HC, The (January 27, 2009)
Known in their day as the Big Four, Roy Cullen, H. L. Hunt, Clint Murchison, and Sid Richardson were all from modest backgrounds, and all became patriarchs of the wealthiest oil families in Texas. As a class they came to be known as the Big Rich, and together they created a new legend in America—the swaggering Texas oilman who owns private islands, sprawling ranches and perhaps a football team or two, and mingles with presidents and Hollywood stars.
The truth more than lives up to the myth. Along with their peers, the Big Four shifted wealth and power in America away from the East Coast, sending three of their state’s native sons to the White House and largely bankrolling the rise of modern conservatism in America. H. L. Hunt became America’s richest man by grabbing Texas’s largest oilfield out from under the nose of the man who found it; he was also a lifelong bigamist. Clint Murchison entertained British royalty on his Mexican hacienda and bet on racehorses—and conducted dirty deals—with J. Edgar Hoover. Roy Cullen, an elementary school dropout, used his millions to revive the hapless Texas GOP. And Sid Richardson, the Big Four’s fun-loving bachelor, was a friend of several presidents, including, most fatefully, Lyndon Johnson. As Texas native Bryan Burrough reveals in this hugely entertaining account, the profound economic, political, and cultural influence of Texas oil is still keenly felt today.