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A Brit's Guide to Texas: Hotter Than Satan's Bottom!

Updated on August 1, 2012
Alamo plaza, downtown San Antonio
Alamo plaza, downtown San Antonio | Source
Source

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...

Texan food

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!


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    • profile image

      Jayne 2 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your first impressions of San Antonio. I can sympathize - I arrived in Houston from the UK in August 1982. The heat is brutal down here isn't it? My husband and I have made a number of trips to San Antonio and always enjoy it.

    • profile image

      Texas gal 3 years ago

      If photography is what you love and you like taking pictures of nature/landscape. You must visit Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle of Texas. Breathtaking! Second largest Canyon in the US.

    • BritInTexas profile image
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      BritInTexas 4 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      Thank you Amber! Hope your brother-in-law is able to keep cool here!

    • Amber Vyn profile image

      Amber Vyn 4 years ago

      My brother-in-law is from Wales and has relocated to blazin' hot SA, so the perspective of this article put a smile on my face. Voted 'up'!

    • BritInTexas profile image
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      BritInTexas 5 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      *Live (on the NE side)

      Oh, and hummingbirds.. I'm so in love with those little guys!!

    • BritInTexas profile image
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      BritInTexas 5 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      The only bugs here that scare the crackers out of me, are those giant cockroaches/waterbugs. Oh God, I've had 3 land on me at once, and I nearly screamed the street down. LOL. I've seen a few snakes, but I don't mind them - too busy snapping photos, LOL. I love on the NE side of San Antonio, suburban, not rural, so I've not been fortunate to hear or see any mountain lions or coyotes. Would LOVE to though. :)

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Well I've got a British Lady friend that I'd like to import to Texas myself :)

      Yes....but from October to March - the weather is generally wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      You can have those bugs!!!!!! There are lots of snakes around...have you seen any?

      Just last night I had a snake encounter here...one was on the back porch.

      Sometimes where I live one can hear the mountain lions screaming in the distance...but I've never spotted one, just heard them.

      Coyotes are super common though. :)

    • BritInTexas profile image
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      BritInTexas 5 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      @Wesman, thank you so much for your comment! Oh my goodness, there are so many things that I like about San Antonio (Texas/USA in general) - downtown is one of my favourite places (I'll be writing about that in my next 'Brit's Guide'!) I love the Hill Country, the wildlife - even the bugs! I'm a photographer, so some of the photo opportunities have been amazing for me. Hubby and I are going home to the UK for a visit this September, and I must admit, one thing I cannot WAIT to escape from (here) is the heat. I don't think I'll ever get used to it! :O)

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      NICE!

      Well, what do you think of San Antonio? It's a beautiful city...I love it there.

      ...but my favourite part of the state is North and East up around Tyler.

      Mexican Food is so wonderful...and available everywhere, but I love that BBQ too.

      This is very interesting. I'd love to hear more and more about things that surprised you, or that you liked, or didn't.

      I've always wanted to visit the U.K., but I've forever (mostly) been in Texas.

    • BritInTexas profile image
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      BritInTexas 5 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      I hear ya about the Twinkies thing, although I would be lying if I said I've not eaten them with ice-cream (only when desperate for something sweet late at night, lol).

      As for men being the ones buying them... was the time 4:20, by any chance? LOL

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      You're right - no fresh cream cakes - but the US does have stuff like blueberry pie, pecan pie, and great ice cream sundaes and milkshakes. What I could never understand was the passion for Hostess Twinkies. (Wonder if they still have those) Dry over-sweet sponge with a sweet synthetic cream in the middle. I worked in a convenience store and it was nearly always men who bought them. I thought maybe they liked the name :)

    • BritInTexas profile image
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      BritInTexas 5 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      @Nigeriatourism, thank you so much! Oh my goodness, I'd be lost if I couldn't get my British tea bags here in Texas. Fortunately, quite a few places sell them (PG Tips tea bags) so while everyone else is gulping down sodas in the heat, I'm happily sipping away on a steaming hot mug of tea, hehehehe.

      @Mazzy, I can't say I've noticed the sugar thing as much as I have the salt. I don't like how many things are 'fake' here - first time I bit into what the store called a, 'fresh cream eclair', I nearly gagged. It was fake cream! No such thing as fresh cream cakes here, sadly. And now... God do I want one! Wahhhhhhh!

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      I always found American food had lots of sugar in it. They sure have a sweet tooth over there! I have to admit their chewy cookies, blueberry muffins and brownies were better than ours, but our chocolate is better. An entertaining hub.

    • profile image

      Nigeriatourism 5 years ago

      lol, tea in the US? i love this hub, highly interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    • BritInTexas profile image
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      BritInTexas 5 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      Thanks, @tjdavis! Oh boy, I've never seen so much salt in food as I have since moving here. That's why many Americans think British food is 'bland' - it's because it's mostly low in salt, and has few preservatives in it. Now that I've been here for a while, those big trucks don't seem all that big anymore, LOL!

    • tjdavis profile image

      Teresa Davis 5 years ago from Moscow, Texas

      Wow I was born and reared here in Texas and never thought we ate too much salt..lol. Interesting perspective you have of Texas and our "big trucks." LOL

    • BritInTexas profile image
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      BritInTexas 5 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      Thanks so much, internpete! This will be my 5th summer here and I can honestly say I am still not used to the heat. It's killin' me! :O)

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Ha, interesting review of San Antonio! I like the perspective you have about it. I lived 150 miles south of San Antonio where its hotter with less to do. I think you get used to the heat eventually, or at least learn to stay inside! nice hub!