Foodways Texas, Documenting The Culture of Texas Food, Hosts Suds and Smoke at DEBC Monday
If you ever lay awake at night and ponder barbecue joints, or if you plot weekends based on slices of smoky brisket and spicy sausage, then you should definitely meet Foodways Texas. You could be a match made in meat heaven.
Foodways Texas, Elgin's Southside Market
Foodways Texas is a group of chefs, journalists, scholars or anyone who has any interest in the historical value of Texas fare whose collective mission is to "preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas."
Marvin Bendele is the executive director of Foodways Texas, which is technically an "affiliated institute" of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin
Several years ago, Bendele took a class at UT with Elizabeth Engelhardt, one of the original members of Foodways Texas. Bendele and the rest of his class were assigned to hitting the back roads to collect historical accounts from barbecue joints around Central Texas. Some of those stories are now on the Foodways Texas website. But, the journey in collecting them never really stops.
It made Bendele consider the food traditions in his own family, who came to Texas from Alsace, France, in the 1840's. The important theme and message is that we all have personal historical accounts of culture and food.
"We don't want to lose those traditions," Bendele said. "And, in a lot of cases, we don't know exactly what they were doing, so it's important to try to collect those stories so we can look back at that culture with a critical eye."
Much of Texas is speckled with ethnic conclaves rich in tradition that have influenced state and local fare. The most notable example, perhaps, is the German and Czech communities in Central Texas and their roles in creating Texas-style barbecue -- places like Lockhart, Luling, Taylor and Shiner.
It's not all just smoke and barbecue though. In an effort to highlight the Gulf Coast, this past weekend Foodways Texas partnered with Saint Arnold Brewing to give bivalve aficionados a taste of appellation oysters from various Gulf reefs, like Ladies' Pass, Champagne Bay and Pepper Grove. Normally Gulf oysters are just Gulf oysters. But, this weekend the simple act of labeling the specific reef where the oysters were harvested, as commonly done with oysters from the Northeast, gave a sense of history to the dinner.
Suds and Smoke
Another event aimed at highlighting Texas cuisine is this coming Monday (February 25) at Deep Ellum Brewing Co., called Suds and Smoke. Bendele explains these events are purely an effort to expose more people the Foodways Texas and its goals of preserving Texas food culture.