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Fine dining in Houston/global travels

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Your book Legends of Texas Barbecue has been my bible as I continue to immerse myself into the wonderful world of smoked meat.

Two (somewhat) related questions..............

There has been some debate on eGullet involving fine dining in Houston (and I guess Texas overall) regarding if it is provincial or not. I would enjoy hear your views about that.

How have your global travels and eating adventures affected your perspective of Texas cuisine?

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Alsace is provincial, Paris is cosmopolitan. You can get choucroute, or any French food in Paris. But the choucroute in Alsace is better that the choucroute in Paris. Likewise, the oysters in Brittany, the confit in the Perigord, the bouillabaisse in Provence.

And so it is with Texas.

Russ Parsons objects to my observation that we are stronger in folk cuisines than haute cuisine in Texas, but that's the way I see it. Barbecue, Tex-Mex, Cajun and Southern are our native provincial foods. (It is said that there are more Cajuns in Houston than in Louisiana.) New York doesn't come close in any of these categories.

Of course, Houston has also become extremely multicultural in the last ten years. But I hesitate to use the word "cosmopolitan" which seems to connote upscale and European. There aren't any top French chefs opening restaurants in Houston. (Unless you count Jean George Vongerichten).

But there is a lot of imported stuff. Houston's Latin American food scene is rivaled only by LA. And the Asian and Middle Eastern scene is coming on strong. The Islamic community in Houston is second in size only to Detroit. There are currently 130,000 Indians and Pakistanis, 50,000 Chinese and 45.000 Vietnamese in Houston. And all of them seem to be awesome cooks.

Personally, I prefer the French countryside to Paris. And while I love to visit New York, there is a lot to like about the provinces.

Edited by Robb Walsh (log)

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