Interview: Lisa Fain, The Homesick Texan Cookbook
Lisa Fain, a seventh-generation Texan who grew up in Dallas and Houston and is now based in New York City, started her blog Homesick Texan in 2006 as a way to reminisce about her love for Texan cooking and recreate authentic Texan fare in her kitchen. The blog amassed a following of Texan transplants and non-Texan foodies, and had led to The Homesick Texan Cookbook (Hyperion), now available in bookstores.
Lisa recently chatted with CBSDFW.com about her new book and Texas cuisine.
CBSDFW.com: How did the Homesick Texan blog start? When you started the blog, did you expect it to grow into such a great community?
Lisa Fain: The blog started as a way for me to share recipes with my friends and family. In the beginning, I had no grand plan, it was just a hobby. Though when strangers who were also homesick Texans started leaving comments, I realized that that there was a whole world of people out there who loved and missed the same foods that I did.
CBSDFW.com: How much of the recipes from the book are family recipes?
Lisa Fain: I’d say about 10% are from family.
CBSDFW.com: When did you first realize your love for food and homecooking?
Lisa Fain: I’ve been cooking in one form or another all my life! I come from a family that loves to cook, so there was always someone in the kitchen doing something. I didn’t start to cook for myself, however, until college. The Joy of Cooking and The Cuisines of Mexico were my first guides.
CBSDFW.com: Which ingredients or Texan dish would you say are the hardest to find in NYC?
Lisa Fain: Good Tex-Mex is the hardest thing to find in New York. Sure, there are a few places that sell it, but it never tastes like it should. It was because of this lack that I started cooking Texas food so often—so I could share it with friends.
CBSDFW.com: How do you think Texan and Tex-Mex cuisine have evolved through the years?
Lisa Fain: When I was growing up, the term Tex-Mex wasn’t used—the food we now know as such was called Mexican food, and what was true Mexican cooking was called interior Mexican. Of course, Mexican and Tex-Mex are two different cuisines. Today, however, you do see Tex-Mex embracing more authentic Mexican ingredients and dishes.
CBSDFW.com: Can you tell us a little bit about the culinary differences among the different regions of Texas?
Lisa Fain: Texas is a vast and varied state, and the cuisine reflects this. Along the Gulf Coast border, you find seafood dishes, with a Mexican influence in the South and more of a Cajun influence in the North. German and Czech settlers heavily influence Central Texas, and this is where the meat-market style of Texas barbecue comes from, along with terrific sausages and soft pastries known as kolaches. East Texas feels the most Southern, so it’s there you’ll find traditional Southern dishes such as black-eyed peas, collard greens, catfish and fried chicken. The West and the panhandle are arid and dry, so beef dishes predominate. And since Texas shares a border with Mexico, that country’s influence can be felt across the state.
The Homesick Texan Cookbook (Hyperion) is now available in bookstores.