I spent New Year's Eve weekend in DC, which was great; it reminded me that I'm part East Coast. But it also gave me a few eerie moments of realizing that everyone else is not part Texan. The thing is, I brought a brisket. The Salt Lick sells them at the airport in Austin. It comes fully cooked, in a freezer bag. I thought this would be the most natural housewarming gift in the world, and anyway, my hosts are food adventures.

But while the brisket was certainly welcome, it was clearly baffling. First of all, no one had ever heard of a brisket. As far as I could tell they had barely heard of barbecue. Secondly--well, the first thing was the main thing. But it led to a lot of other things, if you know what I mean. I described how to cook it, in great detail ("just put it in the oven at a low heat for a couple hours"). I explained the use of the sauce. I approved cornbread and coleslaw as sides. I helped carve it--in thin stripes, not like a steak. For sandwiches the next day, I explained, the traditional bread would be a hamburger bun made with enriched flour and plastic sesame seeds. The table consulted. They thought maybe a dark rye, with the leftover coleslaw as the dressing?

As we ate the brisket, which we all agreed was awesome, my friend's brother commented that I was somehow unlike the other Texans he had met. More "easygoing," he thought--a strange word to use to describe me, and a strange word to not use to describe most Texans. We all enjoyed the meal. It was the first time beer had ever been served in the house's dining room.

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