Curly haired women secretly cringe in fear when traveling to places infested with high percentages of humidity. We rarely catch a break. Luckily, my hair is respectively on the somewhat tamed side of curly. Whether or not my hair is outrageously puffy, I found myself in Texas where everything is supposedly big. This post may or may not support this Southern stereotype.
I went on a quick trip to the alter ego of New York City for family purposes. Texas, as much as I am growing to love it, is still somewhat foreign to me. I have only been there a handful of times. One of these times can considerably be discounted given that I was at the tender age of seven. Also, I have only been exposed to the large city of Houston. Therefore, I cannot be held accountable for any of my statements on Texas as a whole. My input on a particular city, however, is much more definitive.
I stayed in a suburban area north east of Houston called Humble. It is one of the oldest parts of the Houston area, previously cowboy country. Think early 20th century rowdy shoot outs, sheriffs, and many lassos. The discovery and influx of oil enabled for Humble to truly establish itself as a city as the increasing amount of jobs lead to a burgeoning population. Though oil is a capricious asset, this factor in the town still remains today. Many inhabitants work in the oil and gas industry, whether its as an analyst or someone who straight up cleans the pipes. Oil slowly revealed to be a significant part of the Texan, or at least Houstonian, character. Banter over the oil crisis under the Reagan administration still persists, when the rest of us regard it a dead topic, considering the overwhelming Republican majority in the state.
Humble is decisively a quaint, middle class city. Its give or take 15,000 citizens are exposed to many conveniences, strip malls and tons of food. Generous portions consistently accompany modest prices, let me tell you. I was purely ecstatic to know that my burrito would not be 9-10 dollars plus if I decide to have guacamole. (When is guac ever a question really?)
This alludes to arguably one of the most important contributions to American cuisine: TexMex. The evident Mexican culture, along with other Hispanic cultures, that reside in Humble provide an understanding of why this fusion prevails. The city’s largest ethnicity is Hispanic, at 40 percent. Furthermore, the entire city is graced with Mexican food establishments. It is fantastic. I was blessed to have had two wonderful experiences while there, surprisingly, both times, at restaurants that were chains. The first was the quintessential Pappasito’s. It is owned by the thriving Pappas Restaurants, who own a variety of “Pappa” restaurants. Granted, there are 23 Pappasito’s, including the airport outposts. I tend to absolutely avoid chains at all costs; the mediocre quality of food induces hallucinations of burning your wallet once you are on your way home. This restaurant, however, remains so very popular among the people. Its cheap and still better than most that you find up north. A sizzling plate of fajitas, homemade tortillas, and a margarita the size of a newborn baby? I am there.
The other eatery I was introduced to was Los Cucos. I would consider this more authentic than Pappasito’s; there appears to be much more Mexican influence than Texas at this place. Imagine less commercially appealing menus and more Spanish being spoken at nearby tables. I was craving a quesadilla like mad and their truly exquisite hospitality allowed me to have my plain quesadilla with all the fixins, something that was not on the menu. Their arroz rojo, or Mexican rice, was ridiculously delicious. If you’re looking for something more safe, their taco salads looked, and tasted, amazing. I am sure it was ten times better than the one at the Trump Tower Grill.
Keep in mind, also, that Humble does have a proper pronunciation. If you are aiming to fit in the Houston area and know how to pronounce things appropriately without an inherent Texan accent, listen in. “Most people say Humble wrong,” a local tells me. “Its ‘umble.’ The ‘h’ is silent.” This was unknown to me until coming for a few days this week. You’d think that the Hispanic majority would cause for most to remember this, but I will just assume that everyone is observant of different things.
As I type this in probably my favorite breakfast/ coffee spot in Manhattan, it wins by a long shot because of the reliable Wifi, I feel as if I did indeed travel to another country. New York City is in itself vastly diverse than probably anywhere in America. Its something that we traveling New Yorkers must keep in mind each and every time we travel within the United States. When you go to Texas, the last thing you are searching for is a properly constructed Cappuccino and a fresh slice of cheese pizza. It is just not the common thing, unless you venture out to Austin where I hear people are trying to create their own tiny North Eastern country. Either way, traveling is about exposing yourself to the uncomfortable and embracing someone else’s normal. I was once a critic, comparing everything I saw to somewhere else. You must live in the moment and immerse yourself where you are, no matter how out of place you feel. I have been traveling for a while, despite my relatively young age. Nonetheless, I still consider myself a little novice. Venturing out throughout diverse stages in your life can provide for versatile experiences, even if its to the same exact place. Though I am advanced in that I am comfortable with the whole process of traveling, there remains a multitude of unknowns no matter what. But, I am ready.