When time allows, we walk slowly through the waking hours. He has his spot, I have mine. We listen more than talk. The birds are diving for dominance at our feeder, calling out their morning song. The sunlight dances through the pergola. Jasmine is blooming along the fence line. The coffee warms and awakens. Every sense is given a morning gift. It is Texas in the spring and it has become a part of me.
When I moved to Austin nearly 21 years ago, I was supposed to be here for two months. As the time drew near to leave, I remember saying to my brother, “But, what about the BBQ? The breakfast tacos?” As a chef, he understood. For all I would be leaving, the Texas cuisine was going to be one of the hardest things to say goodbye to. Obviously, I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave any of it.
This week, I was with my father at Costco when I saw a copy of my friend’s new cookbook, The United Tastes of Texas. I stopped to take a photo and peruse the recipes when I heard, “Someone is taking a picture of my book. It’s Alissa!” Yes, in moments, you see that Austin, for all of its growth, can still be a small world.
Jessica Dupuy is a fourth generation Texan, a skilled writer, with a refined palate and an eye for details. She travels through each region, each cuisine to create recipes that speak of home. The photography is gorgeous. She captures the beauty of the land and the beauty of each dish. From Rabbit and Sage Dumpling to Arrachera en Adobo, ceviche to coconut flan, Dupuy lovingly curates the tastes of Texas into one stunning book.
If you spend any time traveling, any time with people who love to cook, you realize quickly that it is not just about the food. Preparing a dish is an act of love. Sharing that meal is connective. Food is a conduit. It can spark a story. It can transport. It becomes a part of you, your family, your story.
This past weekend, we sampled her BBQ rub on ribs and pork chops (delicious) for a family supper. I made a slight variation of her avocado-mango salsa (always a favorite), my own slaw and beans. I made a BBQ sauce passed down from another family. My mom made strawberry-rhubarb crisp. With my parents, my sister and her husband, and our first-generation Texans, we shared a slow Sunday afternoon. We shared ourselves, our stories.
Each page of the United Tastes of Texas is like a postcard, a love letter. It speaks to more than the taste of Texas. It captures the heart, the scenery, the soul. And like spring mornings on my porch, each sense is given a gift. Reminding you why you are here, or why you want to return.