5 Things To Eat

by Matt on August 22, 2006



I must ask for your forgiveness before I proceed. Lest I sound like a broken record, I have been tagged for a meme from the one and only Melissa of Traveler’s Lunchbox. I’m not asking you to forgive me for participating in a meme (I’m quite fond of them myself), but just for tolerance and acceptance while I rattle on about the brilliance of Melissa.

I love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love her and her blog.

Ok, I may proceed now.

It’s her first meme, and such a brilliant idea (but c’mon now, did we expect anything less from her I ask?) This time around she asks 5 bloggers to list five things they would recommend to others to try at least once in their lives. Titled “Things To Eat Before You Die”, the meme is also known as “The Foodblogger’s Guide to the Globe” and will no doubt yield some unique and savory results. Ladies and gentleman, I now give you Matt’s Five Things To Eat Before You Die:

1. Texas Barbeque from any reputable place in the Hill Country

I learned at an early age to abstain from group conversation about religion, politics, and barbeque preference. I will never participate in the big giant barbeque debate on which state has the best, but then again I don’t have to–everyone knows it’s Texas! I mean really…

Beef ribs, pork ribs, sausages, hot links, sliced white bread on butcher paper, dirty sticky fingers, rings of sliced white onions, Dr. Pepper, brisket, barbequed chicken, I need say not a word more.

2. Chicken Fried Steak

I’m certainly paying homage to my home state with my list, but if you’ve ever had true authentic Chicken Fried Steak you know what I’m talking about. Chicken Fried Steak isn’t chicken at all, but generally a less-that-stellar cut of chuck or round steak that is pounded thin, seasoned and breaded, and fried just like chicken. Chicken Fried Steak is believed to have come from German immigrants to Texas during the 19th century as it is very similar to schnitzel. It’s almost usually served with mashed potatoes and gravy and has been known to cause me to either 1) scream for more 2) faint from happiness and 3) avoid my doctor when it’s time for a physical.

3. Barbacoa

Spanish for the word “barbecue”, barbacoa has a very specific meaning in Texas and parts of Mexico. And if you’ll excuse the grisly image I’ve photographed below, I will tell you that some of the most delicious, mouth-watering tacos ever consumed by man come from Texas–and they come from the head of a cow.

I’ll wait right here while you turn away in disgust or write me hate mail.


All done?

Barbacoa involves a very slow roast, either in an oven or traditionally in the ground. Once cooked the meat is scraped off the head and seasoned, wrapped in a fluffy flour tortilla and enjoyed on Sunday mornings. I’ve introduced these tacos to dozens of friends with always the same statements: “those have to be the best tasting tacos I have ever eaten in my entire life.”  And it’s true. Barbacoa does not taste like strange organ meet, but some of the most deliciously savory, fatty beef you could ever put in your mouth.

Once you get over the shock.

4. Dry Jack Cheese

The story goes that Italian immigrants brought their cheese-making ways (thank GOD!) to California, but were diverted in the cheesemaking process by the war. Regular Monterey Jack cheese went into storage and inadvertently came out hard and aged. The result is Dry Jack cheese, one of the most heavenly pieces of food you could ever dream of putting into your mouth. Grassy, nutty and full of flavor, the wheels of Dry Jack are rubbed with oil and cocoa and it’s the only cheese I can think of that has the cajones to compare to a true Parmigiano Reggiano.

Today we have Ig Vella to thank for his Dry Jack. When I say I want to be buried with a wedge of his cheese I mean it.

5. Bugey Cerdon

If I offered you a small glass of happiness would you drink it? That’s about the best way to describe drinking Vin de Bugey Cerdon, a sparkling rosé from the area of Cerdon. This gorgeous pink sparkling wine is lower in alcohol with a wonderful acidity that makes it enjoyable with just about anything, but it never seems to last long enough around me and my partner, even when we give it as a gift. It’s refreshing, not too sweet and not too dry, but it’s the color that literally makes me smile. To say it’s the perfect summer sip would be a major understatement, and if you ever see it on the market then by all means pick up a bottle. Or twelve.


And now I pass on the meme to some new and old friends. I can’t wait to read their selections.

1. My lovely fellow Texan Melissa at A Variety of Fine Pickles
2. David Lebovitz at, um, davidlebovitz.com
3. The One And Only Acme Instant Food
4. Lara at Cookbook 411
5. Mae at Rice And Noodles