Six Local Books for Foodies for the Holidays
Texas food for the eyes and stomach
The Little Local Texas Cookbookby Hilah Johnson
Countryman Press, 80 pp., $14.95
Here's the charming Ms. Johnson of the Hilah Cooking web series, with her third cuisine-based book. This one's a down-home treasure of Tex-Mex and other Lone Star vittles, filled with recipes for queso, nachos, Frito pie, smoked brisket, chicken-fried steak, kolaches, Texas sheet cake, peach cobbler, and much more. So easy to follow, and with beautiful, full-color illustrations by Courtney Jentzen, this book'll have you deep in the tastiest part of Texas in no time flat.
Franklin Steakby Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay
Ten Speed Press, 224 pp., $29.99
Locals know that the food at Franklin Barbecue is equal to the (admittedly ridiculous) amount of hype the place is subject to. But A-game Franklin's already shared his brisket techniques in a previous book, and this latest one (also written with his pal Mackay and featuring sizzling photos by Wyatt McSpadden) focuses on beefsteak, telling you everything you'd want to know (and then some) about turning a cow into something perfectly cooked and delicious.
Texas BBQ: Small Town to Downtownby Wyatt McSpadden
UT Press, 160 pp., $39.95
Here's the man who shot the unforgettable images for those Franklin books noted above, following up his own Texas BBQ debut with a coffeetable-worthy sequel that proves he's unmatched as a doc-'cue-mentarian. McSpadden's second volume puts you back in the middle of the best Texas barbecue action, with sights so vivid you can almost sense the sounds and smells that accompany them.
Road Sidesby Emily Wallace
UT Press, 192pp, $24.95
Oops, Emily Wallace is from North Carolina! But (hear us out) this delightful book was published by UT Press – and if UT ain't local, then Longhorns can fly and we're all in big trouble. Besides, this "Illustrated Companion to Dining and Driving in the American South" does have parts about Texas, and there can't be many travelogues-of-odd-vernacular this engagingly written, can there? Certainly none (other than Road Sides itself) authored by a woman with a master's degree in folklore, an author whose thorough and engaging descriptions of Southern regional standouts and culinary peculiarities are enhanced by her own full-color drawings.
Seven Drinksby Ty Harvey
Self-published, 60 pp., $8.99 (paper)
This, we reckon, is as local as it gets. It's a self-published, perfect-bound chapbook – full title: Seven Drinks (on the Absurdity of Being Human) and Instructions for Their Service – in which longtime Volstead Lounge bartender Harvey conjures up a septet of drinks-based rituals that are designed to make you slow down and think about what the hell you're doing – with your drinking, with your basic social interactions, with (really) your life. Is this one of those weird little Austin things? Maybe. Is it of universal human relevance? That's certain.
Let's Make Ramen!by Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan
Ten Speed Press, 192 pp., $19.99 (paper)
Just a little nonlocal lagniappe at the end of your bookish meal, here. Just a reminder that this treatment of the subject does for ramen what Aaron Franklin's first book did for brisket. And, yes, Let's Make Ramen! is not just illustrated, it's presented in full-on sequential-art style – with the charm and precision of Becan's visuals matching the clarity and depth of Amano's writing, and the whole thing empowering even the newest cook to, ah, use the ol' noodle in the tastiest ways.