I can directly attribute my delinquency in learning how to cook to cornbread. Cornbread, that humble, warming, soul soothing southern food, scarred me for life. My first attempt at cooking (technically baking) resulted in me refusing to take any form of help with the recipe whatsoever and then adding 3 Tbsp of salt, rather than tsp, to the cornbread. The result: Disastrous. My cooking career: Over where it started. For the next two decades I obstinately insisted through bites of Burger King that I would “never neeeed to learn to cook, Mooom!” (insert whiney, self-righteous 13 year old voice here) “Geeez!”
“What will you do when you are married?” she countered.
She underestimated me. She forgot she’d let it slip a time or two that she was an independent, feminist mother, so I suavely replied: “Hmpf, I’m going to marry a chef.”
The irony is, I did marry a chef (Mmhmm, take that Mom). Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that chefs don’t necessarily like to cook at home (Foodies do, but that’s a different breed of person entirely). Some do, sure – they’ll throw together the occasional stuffed quail (deboned by hand) to impress guests, but the average chef would rather pick up McDonald’s on the way home then add any more time in the kitchen to his/her 16 our day. My husband quit his job as a chef before we met, but the experience seems to have tattooed him on the soul. And thus, against all my adolescent certainty, I learned to cook, and somewhere along the line, figured out that my husband was a chef, and that I was the foodie.
I am not sure that I am entirely over my need to succeed at a subject quickly, nor have I ever tried to make cornbread again. However, it has remained in my mind, not only for that experience, but because of the many Texan recipes that my mom cooked for us in northern Indiana growing up, it feels the most authentic. There’s just something “little house on the texas prarie” about being served cornbread from a skillet pulled directly from the oven. I’d go so far to say that the way it’s cooked is what imbedded it in my brain as “memorable food,” (and therefore comfort food) and not at all the taste. Because seriously, how often is comfort food just about taste anyway?
Since I don’t make it, I offer no recipe. For that, I direct you to someone more knowledgeable. However, I’d like to direct you to Z’ Tejas on 6th street, the next time you’re out. For the cornbread. Okay, okay, the other food too…
The menu appears standard at first, but upon closer look it is sprinkled with creative ideas. There’s an iceberg salad that is completely caloric and nutrition free, but there is something heavenly about teeth sinking through blue cheese right into a crisp “CRUNCH.” Nothing creative here, but mmm nonetheless.
Everyone has a different preference on the consistency and make-up of a good Tortilla Soup. Personally I like mine thick and creamy. Burnt orange like the local school and the sunset out my second story window this week. Cheese stringing off the spoon. Z’ Tejas has this.
My husband ordered the winning dish: Chorizo stuffed Pork medallions with a Roasted Garlic-Paprika Cream Sauce. Guess where my soup spoon was meandering frequently, much to his annoyment. I don’t normally like, much less order Pork, and I plan to order this next time (though tell them to skip the vegetables: Bland and Cold).
The prices were normal and the wait staff was just fine. The shopping just down the street was fabulous, helping us work up the appetite we needed, and the food was pretty damn good. However, the cornbread is what left it’s mark, and now you know why.