Tuesday, April 15, 2014

things to know about Texas

I've lived in Houston for my whole life. Most of my extended family is here, so I don't get a chance to see how other people live very often. I think that's part of why I like blogging; I love to see what things are like in other places. So, assuming that you do, too, I just wanted to share a few Texas experiences with you that are just part of life to me.

- Bluebonnets. I'm sure if you follow any Texan via social media, you'll see that we are deep in bluebonnet season. Bluebonnets are Texas' state flower and as kids, we were all told that it was illegal to pick them. While that isn't true, most people think it is and that means that the fields of bluebonnets on the side of Texas roads stay in tact as long as possible. It isn't uncommon to see families pulled over and taking pictures in fields along highways. It's just our thing.

Last year's bluebonnet pic - hopefully we can take another this weekend.

- Tex-Mex versus Mexican food. Hate to break it to you, rest of the world, but the food you call Mexican is actually Tex-Mex. Think queso, nachos, quesadillas, and things featuring flour tortillas and sour cream. Mexican food is richer, uses less cheese, and seems to focus more on the way meat is cooked and featured in the dish. So if I am learning about a new restaurant here that's described as Mexican, I have to follow up with "Traditional or Tex-Mex?" For the record, I typically prefer Tex-Mex.

- Kolaches. It makes me sad that the rest of America doesn't have these as a breakfast staple. Basically, there was a large Czech population that settled in Texas and they brought kolaches with them. Traditional kolaches are a sweet bun with a dollop of fruit mixture on top. However, for some reason, Houstonians also call meat-filled buns (think a pig in a blanket on steroids) kolaches, too. Pretty much any donut shop in town also sells the meat kolaches. They're staples here.

Left - the fruit kolaches. Right - the kind with meat inside. These are smaller than the ones available at most donut shops.

- The feeder road is the frontage road. I just learned a few years ago that the thing I have always known as a feeder road is a frontage road in the rest of the world. Apparently Houstonians are pretty much the only ones who call them feeders. Why, and why is it so widespread? So weird.

- Houston has no zoning. I don't even know how to properly explain this because I've only ever lived here, but the fact that Houston has no zoning laws baffles anyone who comes here. You might have a strip club down the street from a grocery store with an office building behind it. While I just see that as first come, first served when it came to buying property, others find that odd. Apparently pawn shops are seen as shady in other parts of the country, but here they are everywhere. There's one in the same shopping center as my dry cleaner. It might as well be a Walgreens as far as I'm concerned - I'm indifferent to it.

- "Don't Mess with Texas." For as long as I can remember, this has been a slogan to deter littering on Texas highways. Other people interpret it as being something slightly menacing - like ohhhh, Texas is too big to be messed with. Nope, it just means don't litter.

image from here.

- Whataburger. It's a fast food burger chain. My mom didn't really like it so I didn't eat it much growing up and don't particularly care for it now, but I'm in the minority; people love it. It's open 24 hours so it's notorious drunk food. People go crazy for their ketchup and it's now sold at HEB (Texas' best grocery store). It's considered blasphemy to say I couldn't care less about it, though, because there are people who crave it and have to eat it as soon as they cross state lines.

So those are just a few things that seem commonplace to me but might strike you as crazy. So tell me - what should I know about where you live?


  1. It seems like every other state has an awesome flower festival and I want to know what the heck TN is doing? Catch up on the coolness dangit.

  2. What a pretty picture with the flowers! All good to know...had no idea "Don't Mess With Texas" came from a littering campaign. I always assumed it came from a movie or some early war :) That is really crazy there is no zoning laws there.

  3. Tex-Mex for the win! Thank you, great state!

  4. I thought Don't mess with Texas came from the love of guns? Haha. Learn something new everyday. Boston is all about Dunkin Donuts and small businesses, and our roads make no sense prepare to get lost a lot! ;)

  5. Now I want a kolache!!!!!!! GIMMEE!!!! Love that pic of you guys in the flowers! :)

  6. Oh, I love learning new things!

    My great grandmother was from Czech and she used to make kolache!!!! I forget what it tastes like because I was really little when I had it....but I remembered it as soon as I saw it! How fun!!!

    We have Whataburger here in Alabama and I love it. The only time we eat it though is when we are out after midnight and making bad decisions. Which is hardly ever anymore since I have reached hag status.

    Don't get me started on Texas zoning laws. We do a shit ton of work out that way and when I have to research the tax information and zoning stuff I get angry. Like you have zoning but it just isn't enforced it seems. Also, you can just build a dang nursing home anywhere you please. The whole state is overbedded and gives me headaches when I type up my reports!

  7. I've only been to Texas a few times, but I loved it there! And Kolaches...omg...SO YUM. I must find them or learn to make them!

  8. My husband's entire family lives in Houston so we visit often! The insane traffic is what baffles me! It just seems different than other large cities and people drive crazy! Lol

  9. First of all I love this post, great idea!

    Second of all for the last 14 years I have worked for companies based in Texas, I have worked with a ton of Houstonians (some even lived here for a while), and I've never heard of Kolaches. I feel like someone should have told me about these sooner!

  10. Oh gosh!! I had NO idea the "don't mess with texas" was a no littering sign!!

  11. OMG, if I was not moving back in oh, 7 WEEKS!!!, right about now I would so be mad at you for all these awesome things! But I LOVE them all and the fact that you made a post out of them!
    Gimme all the kolaches and Whataburger! There is a Whataburger right near the UH campus that stole all my money in college, but luckily I don't go regularly now!
    Rowdy made kolaches because recently we were dying for them so bad!
    Love the bluebonnets pics! They never get old. :)

  12. Portland's zoning laws are super lax, so you can technically have a strip club next to a playground. it's odd and there are strip clubs EVERYWHERE haha

  13. I'm enjoying all the bluebonnet photos. :) I also love tex-mex and whataburger!

  14. Haha, so I don't know if Tampa has a no zoning law, but we have quite a few strip clubs close to our business district. Sadly, I have never heard of Kolaches!

  15. I LOVE THIS!!! I remember asking someone in college what a frontage road was. Haha. And Whataburger or Wait-a-burger as I call it is AWESOME. They do have very unique ketchup. And Dr. Pepper is another big thing here. People elsewhere don't always know DP.

  16. I need to try that breakfast next time I am down!

    And I don't know what a feeder or frontage road is!!

  17. Haha these were all things I learned very quickly once I moved down to Houston. God bless Whataburger breakfast most of all...

  18. I discovered real Mexican food after I visited Mexico. Still baffles me that people don't know that most of what you eat in America is Tex-Mex. Love this post! Always interesting to see the differences in states.

  19. What is a feeder/frontage road? I don't think we call whatever that is frontage here. Is it like a road that feeds into a highway? Like an on ramp?

    I would really love to see the Texas bluebonnets and have my picture taken among them. They're beautiful.

    I would also like kolaches to be a thing in my life.

    I always try to take pics of my city because like you I like to see what it looks like that day where other people are. I think that's one of the coolest things about IG/the interwebs.

  20. I've never even heard of bluebonnets or Whataburger! And I have to get my butt to Texas for some Mexican food, sounds so yummy!

  21. Ah, this is so cool! I love reading about other places, although I have to admit, since I started blogging, I've been less content with where I live, especially in spring, which is actually a thing everywhere but Canada. Sigh. Kolaches look delicious! And I prefer tex-mex too...I was kind of disappointed when I tried real Mexican for the first time.

  22. I probably shouldn't have read this while STARVING because I could really go for some Whataburger and kolaches and Tex Mex right now! Yum!

    I never really knew that kolaches weren't a thing everywhere until I was in California a few years ago and was craving kolaches. Turns out you can't find them anywhere! Such a sad, sad morning for me.

  23. I tried a kolache for the first time when I visited you two!

    That is so funny you bring up the feeder roads and frontage roads. It was on that fun little dialect quiz that was crazy popular on FB months ago. I tend to look at frontage roads and feeder roads differently. I view what you guys have as feeder roads because they are long roads that feed into the highway. Texas is the only place I've seen this (so far anyways). (I also remember noticing you guys have a lot of places for U-turns to help you get around.) We have frontage roads because our roads that are directly next to the highway do not feed into the highway. We have on and off ramps that feed into the highway, but they aren't that long. And I keep saying highway, apparently in some parts of the U.S. people instead say freeways and other such variances.

    I have always thought the "Don't Mess with Texas" was slightly menacing. Thanks for pointing out it's about littering. I learned something!

    I've never tried Whataburger. I tend to like Jack in the Box occasionally, so I bet I'd like it!


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