Texas: land of beef, hybrid American-Mexican food, and barbecue smoke. When most people think of the food that has made 28th state famous, it’s usually a combination of deliciously smoked meats or some Americanized Mexican treat, rolled up in a tortilla and deep-fried. Each of these dishes is of course delicious in its own right, however, with Texas experiencing some of the highest annual summertime temperatures in the country, we Texans need to balance out our brisket intake with some lighter and more refreshing fair.
Although each part of Texas has their own summer specialties that they rely on for a taste of something fresh during the hot summer months, here are a few that we can all agree help us get through week after week of 100+ degree temperatures.
With a thousand different variations, and almost as many things to enjoy it with, guacamole is one of the most universally beloved and enjoyed Texas foods. Like so many of the great foods Texas has to offer, guacamole cemented itself in the hearts of Texans everywhere after it traveled north from Mexico. The green stuff helps keep us all cool during the tumultuous four-, five-, or six-month summers that we’re subject to each year.
Some people enjoy tomatoes in their guacamole, while others consider that heresy. Similarly, some enjoy including less traditional ingredients, like pumpkin seeds or pomegranate seeds. For purists though, it really comes down to finding the right mix of six key ingredients: avocados, lime juice, cilantro, onion (preferably red), salt, and jalapeños. The cool mix of avocados and lime, mixed with the sharpness of the onion and jalapeño provides a perfect appetizer for an afternoon fiesta. In the shade of course.
By no means is ceviche a dish that’s native to modern Texas, but with an ever-increasing influx of Central and South American culture in the Lone Star state, ceviche continues to become increasingly popular. Both delicious and incredibly easy to make, ceviche can be made with almost any seafood you choose, ranging from squid and octopus to sea bass or mackerel.
All you need is your choice of seafood (preferably on the lighter side yet sturdy), citrus, and a few fresh vegetables and you can have a delicious and refreshing lunch in no time. Our only recommendation: make enough, but not too much. Ceviche doesn’t keep well, so it’s best consumed soon after it’s prepared.
Watermelon is, to put it mildly, a big deal in Texas. Although every state throughout the southern half of the U.S. can lay claim to having the best watermelon in the country, Texas takes particular pride in the size, quality, and variety of watermelons that the state produces. Besides being refreshing and bountiful, watermelon can be used in a number of ways to provide some much-needed chill to your next hot summer day.
Watermelon cocktails and watermelon gazpacho are two ways to increase your watermelon intake, but if you want to get super-versatile, take a look at the least prized part of the melon, the rind. It might not look like much, but with a little planning and creativity you can turn that flavorless melon bark into some super delicious, sweet-tart-crunchy pickles. If that isn’t getting the most bang for your buck with one melon, we just don’t know what is.
Yes, Texas doesn’t possess a huge amount of oceanic coastline, but if you don’t consider oysters to be an integral part of Texas summer eating than you’re hanging with the wrong crowd. With a huge influx of transplants from the Gulf now calling Texas home, more and more people are enjoying the fruits of Louisiana’s labor by discovering the glory of fresh oysters. The combination of oceanic tang and their lightly chilled flesh creates a delectable treat that can be quickly addicting for first-timers, and keeps long-time oyster connoisseurs coming back for more.
For those of you heading out on the town, grab a cocktail and a dozen on the half shell and call it a day. However, if you’re braving the sometimes-gnarly shucking process at home, there are a few things to keep in mind. Really though, just enjoy yourself and be careful, the oysters will takes care of the rest.
For those of you who are fans of True Detective, you’re most likely aware of Lone Star’s significance to Texans (yes, Russ Cole was telling tales and cutting out dolls in a Louisiana precinct, but don’t forget where our favorite soothsayer originated from). Officially dubbed “The National Beer of Texas,” Lone Star is the quintessential summer refreshment for Texans everywhere, ranging from El Paso to Corpus Cristi to Amarillo. Affordable, refreshing, and always smooth, Lone Star quenches even the most fervid of thirsts during the Texas summer. Are there other delicious Texas beers to choose from? Of course, Shiner Bock is always a popular choice, along with an ever-exploding micro brewing culture across the state, but Lone Star is still the staple of thirsty Texans everywhere, regardless of where they’re enjoying their first, second, or seventh beer of the day. I think it’s time for a nap in the shade.
Max Bonem is an eater and home cook who is more than likely hungry at this very moment. He enjoys writing about food and talking to other people about what they’re finding most appetizing at the moment. Holler at him on Twitter at @ChazarBlog.