Feast & Learn About Texas Food at This Upcoming Event in Brenham

On a cold Sunday in March — one of those bone-chilling days when Houston’s humidity soaks through your skin — I attended a kosher chili cook-off. A Mexican dish filtered through Texas ranch culture was being sampled in the parking lot of a Jewish synagogue, founded in 1887 primarily by Russian and Polish immigrants, while a Jewish rock band played klezmer music and Lynyrd Skynyrd, a Jewish funeral home handed out Bloody Marys, an African-American mayor shook hands, and a Jewish councilwoman judged chili. This is Houston. This is Texas. This is the New South.

Traditional Mexican metate from the 2015 symposium in San Antonio. Photo by Kelly Yandell.

This confluence of cuisines is the focus of Foodways Texas. This year, the organization is headed to Brenham for its annual symposium, which highlights its mission to document, preserve and celebrate the diversity of food and cultures across the state. Food enthusiasts, chefs, scholars, history buffs, pitmasters and anyone interested in better understanding the Lone Star State are gathering to discuss Texas’ food and culture — and share some fabulous meals.

The three-day event kickoffs on Thursday, April 25 at Rockin’ Star Ranch — a name avid Houston dinners will recognize from the annual Butcher’s Ball — at 8002 Fuelburg Pease Lane in Brenham with a dinner by Houston’s very own James Beard-semifinalist Kaiser Lashkari, chef and owner of Himalaya Restaurant.

The event will end Saturday night, April 27th, with a traditional barbacoa dinner. Third-generation pitmaster Adrian Davila, of Davila’s BBQ in Seguin and author of Cowboy Barbecue: Fire & Smoke from the Original Texas Vaqueros, will be cooking a whole cow in an earthen pit, a method that was once more common in Texas but that is rarely used today. It’s a rare experience to enjoy this type of cooking.

Kaiser and Azra Lashkari of Himalaya
Kaiser and Azra Lashkari of Himalaya Restaurant in Houston. Photo courtesy of Kaiser Lashkari.


In between these two meals, attendees will learn about Indian-American celebrations and food in Texas, tamales, Tex-Mex barbecue, Texas pecan farming, Juneteenth celebrations and much more. Plus, guests get to enjoy Texas heritage-grain pancakes and dishes prepared by chefs Erin and Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ. The complete schedule can be found online and tickets, which include all the meals, are at this link.

Beet salad from the 2016 symposium in Austin. Photo by Kelly Yandell.

If you want to experience and better understand the many cuisines and cultures that make Texas unique, you won’t want to miss this year’s symposium.

Disclosure: the author volunteers with Foodways Texas as the Vice President of its advisory board. 

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