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Bigger in Texas

October 17, 2007

Texas Tater

Update:  The picture doesn’t even do it justice.  You need to see a human hand next to the potato and an overhead shot to get a true sense of the girth of this Texas Tater. 

It’s true.  Everything’s bigger in Texas.  Here’s a photo of my first meal upon entering the Lone Star State.  I wasn’t too hungry, simply looking for a small bite to tide me over for the afternoon until dinner.  What I received on my tray at a local deli was a grotesque monstrosity of a baked potato which clearly had every single growth hormone pumped into its innermost parts during adolescence.  Giant is not nearly specific enough to describe this freak of nature.  This was more King Kong than Shaquille O’Neal.  There’s no way I can explain this without showing you a picture:  The potato needed a platter bigger than the biggest platter, and the one they used wasn’t nearly huge enough to contain the beast.  Also:  This was possibly the most delicious baked potato I had ever tasted.  Two different cheeses, one cheddar and one American, smothered its valleys and crevasses, topped by green onions, thick bacon pieces and fresh, bright green broccoli alighted on top to finish off this rubinesque delight.  I looked around for the masses who most surely would be staring as I attempted to attack this bionic tuber, but everyone was too busy battling their own over-sized meals on too-small plates.   This proved indicative of my forays into San Antonio’s noble fare.  I wasted more food on this trip than I remember tossing out in a very long time. 

Most of my meals were provided by the hotel hosting my conference, but one night we escaped to the mercado central.  Bright authentic Mexican goods lined the stalls, beckoning to this tourist on her search for Day of the Dead paraphanelia.  We soon tired of shopping and made our way to the nearest tourist trap called “La Margarita.”  The way I travel is usually to find the most authentic dining experience in town, but this time I was accompanied by two very hungry people who needed to find the first thing we came across.  Lucky for us, it was one of those unforeseen jackpot nights.

We began with margaritas, traditional San Antonio drinks, but these were stellar versions of the basic ‘rita.’  They used awesome tequila, although after a few of these tasty drinks the memory of which tequila flew from my mind, never to return.  We shared the appetizer, a Tex-Mex spin on seafood cocktail.  The succulent shrimp and plump oysters sat gracefully in a large margarita class full of horseradish salsa, avocados, onions, with a lime twist.  Silently, we scooped seafood out with hearty tortilla chips, racing each other for the last bite.  I loved this appetizer.  I shared the main course with a friend:  Camarones con mojo de ajo (shrimp in garlic sauce) and some combination platter involving a beef taco, beef tamale, beef enchalada, and carne asada beef on the side.  These choices summed up Tex-Mex cuisine for me:  beef, seafood, and more beef.  The beef was actually extremely well spiced and well-cooked in each separate dish.  The rice was unimpressive Spanish rice and an even blander white Yucatan version.  The avocados and tomatoes tasted fresh for that time of year, and then I remembered I was in Texas, where such long seasons are common for summertime produce.  The shrimps were large, bouncy in all the right ways, but too greasy when they cooled.  My biggest complaint- the tortillas were flour, not corn! I don’t know if that’s the case everywhere in Texas, but that was the only tourist trap indicator to me the whole night.

Outdoor seating was gorgeous on a warm night, the margaritas flowed gracefully, and the seafood appetizer was top-notch.  Overall, San Antonio has an enormous amount of dining options, each of them bigger than the last.  As a tour guide explained it to me,

“We have Tex-Mex, Cali-Mex, Italia-Mex, Japanese-Mex, Chinese-Mex, Seafood-Mex, and Mexican.  That’s pretty much it.”

My recommendation:  when in Texas, share your order unless you think you’ll grow at least five inches taller during your stay.  There must be something in the beef/water/oil/pesticides/milk, because by the looks of it, mostly people do gain about five inches after spending ample time there.  Creepy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2007 11:47 am

    Hey gourmet grrrrl.
    Thanks for the comment…I too love papas and beer, i just discovered it a few weeks ago and can’t stop going. I also used to be a big fan of “el taquilense” on patton, but it is now another one of the (for me) dreaded “chapala” restaurants and the quality is going downhill fast….though they do give you really tasty chips now.

  2. catma permalink
    October 18, 2007 1:00 pm

    It’s true. I was born in TX at a bit above average 21″ and lost 2″ after being moved as a newborn to the midwest, where I did grow taller, but ever since have been a few inches under the norm.

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