A Brit's Guide to Texas: Hotter Than Satan's Bottom!
100 degrees fahrenheit: "Can I have a cup of tea, please?!"
This Hub is designed to give an insight into Texas life for anyone considering either visiting or moving here. It is not intended to be a travel diary or blog, but a fun, factual, informative account of my experiences upon moving here to San Antonio. So whether you're a fellow Brit with a thirst for heatstroke, Mexican food, and/or gigantic insects, (that fly!), or someone curious about the history of The Alamo, read on for a personal account of all things Texan!
Us Brits have somewhat of a stigma attached to us: We are sun worshipers. Bit of an oxymoron, really, considering that the UK has less than 2 months of what could pass as 'summer' per year, with temperatures rarely clawing their way above the high 70s. But that doesn't deter the die-hard vitamin D fans from packing their bags and heading in the general direction of wherever the sun burns hottest, their milky white bodies stretching the entire length of the Mediterranean coastlines and beaches, from Majorca to Cyprus, and beyond. Obtaining a lobster-red sunburn would seem to be the goal of holidaying Brits everywhere, the main incentive being bragging rights upon returning home to cold, wet Britain, and the chance for a tan of Patricia Krentcil proportions!
Hotter than Satan's bottom!
The same cannot be said for me, however: a humble English gal, pale as a bottle of semi-skimmed milk, who, in October 2007, stepped off a plane from England, onto the burning hot tarmac of San Antonio, TX, airport, not quite fully comprehending that the hottest part of summer was already over with. The furnace-like blast of hot air that greeted me when those airport doors opened, is something I will not forget in a hurry. In fact, it's the curliest my eyelashes have been in a long time! I'm fairly sure that the first words out of my mouth to my waiting fiancé were, "Bloody 'ell, it's hotter than Satan's arse out here!"
We slowly made our way across the road to what I initially thought was a used-truck sales lot - I'd never seen so many big trucks, 4-wheel drives, or off-road vehicles anywhere but on a car dealer's forecourt before, so when my fiancé opened the passenger side door of one of the trucks parked there, I felt myself inwardly groan. It's a bit difficult to retain any kind of ladylike dignity whilst trying to clamber into a monolithic lump of sun-baked metal, doing my best not to obtain third-degree burns in the process. I must admit I was rather impressed with the height of the thing, though, towering over the few 'normal' sized vehicles on the road as we shot down I-35 towards where I now call 'home'. I can't be certain now, but at one point, I was sure we accidentally drove over the top of a mid-sized sedan...
My first meal in Texas came from Rudy's BBQ; apparently this was the obvious choice in food destinations when trying to decide what to feed a Brit that could be deemed, 'traditional Texan barbecue". A plate of beef brisket, potato salad, beans, and coleslaw - the oddest combination of food I'd ever seen, and if I'm honest, not the best tasting, either. Whether I was just beyond tired from 14+ hours of traveling, or just unacquainted with such rich food, I don't know, but let's just say I went hungry that first night. I soon learned, however, that this type of grub was something I'd have to get used to if I was going to be living here and participating in regular family functions, holidays, and picnics - smoked meat, beans, and coleslaw being one of the typical dishes made for such occasions. And boy do the Texans like their 'occasions'!
One of these such occasions was Thanksgiving; always celebrated on the last Thursday in November, and it was nothing like I had always imagined Thanksgiving to be. For one thing, no gifts were exchanged, so there went my belief that Americans celebrated 'two Christmases"!
Turkey, a large ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, something called 'green bean casserole' (absolutely delicious, I'll share the recipe later!), plus other goodies, all laid out on the kitchen counter for people to come and help themselves. This is something that struck me as unusual - unlike us Brits, Texan families don't cook dinner, pile it all on a plate, and hand it out to the guests. It's always self-service! While this makes more sense than dolloping something on someone's plate that they don't want or like, it sure makes for a lot of washing-up afterwards! It's also traditional in many families here, for each guest to bring a dish of some sort, so if you get invited to dinner in Texas, you'd fair well in offering to take a dish along with you. Bread buns, a salad, some kind of dessert pie, are all good choices. Avoid preparing British dishes, though - I made parsley sauce to go with the ham at my first Thanksgiving, and no one touched it!
Fast food and restaurants...
As far as San Antonio goes, you have a never ending choice of restaurants and fast food places. There's your standard eateries such as Applebees, Ruby Tuesday, and Jim's, which serve what you'd expect 'American food' to be, such as burgers, steaks, salads, etc. Then there's the specialized restaurants serving Italian food, Mexican food, (of which there is a ridiculous abundance), seafood, etc. And let's not forget the fast food joints like, Wendy's, Whataburger, Burger King, Taco Bell, Popeyes, Arby's, etc, etc. You certainly won't go hungry here, but I can't promise that your diet will be a healthy one - heart disease being the number one killer of Americans every year. There is also a stupid amount of preservatives, artificial colors and flavors in the food here, so as long as you don't mind consuming drinks the color of a Smurf, or cheese so processed that there's very little taste to it, you'll be fine! You'll also be hard pressed to find foods that aren't loaded with salt, too, which is probably the reason that many Americans say that British food is, "bland". Once you get used to a lot of sodium in food, of course less-salted stuff is going to taste boring!
A Brit's Guide to Visiting, or Living in, Texas: PART 2
- A Brit's Guide to Visiting, or Living in, Texas: Part 2
Part 2 of a series of guides to life in Texas, written by a British ex-pat!
Britishisms For Dummies
- Britishisms for Dummies!
A fun list of locally and nationally used words and phrases by the people of England, Britain.