Food & Dining | KERA News

Food & Dining

While some Texas businesses have reopened already, many are waiting to hear what the governor's COVID-19 reopening plan is for retail outlets, restaurants, salons and other businesses first.

Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to make an announcement today about the path to reopen a wide range of Texas businesses, including hair salons, retail outlets and restaurants.

But the mayor of one North Texas city — Colleyville — has already done that. On Sunday, folks waited in line for up to three hours for a chance to eat on Rio Mambo's patio.

Univ. of Texas Press and Associated Press

You can eat one with carne asada and corn tortillas in East Los Angeles, or one with flour and pit-grilled pork known as al pastor in Dallas. Travelers can pick a few up outside of Berlin’s Schonefeld Airport before boarding a flight, or grab one with albondigas and collard greens in Memphis, Tennessee.

In each place, you can taste the social and global evolution of the taco, according to José R. Ralat.

Donna McWilliam / Associated Press

The Fort Worth school district is now providing meals at Como Montessori School and Polytechnic High School in addition to the eight original school locations. [Update: By March 23, Fort Worth will have 17 "meals-to-go" sites set up to feed families.]

Gwin and Ryan Huey eat corny dogs in front of Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas before the annual Red River Showdown college football game between Texas and Oklahoma. Almost 80 years after the corny dog's debut, the snack is a traditional Fair snack.
Associated Press

Foods we consider familiar today were once considered novel at the time of their State Fair of Texas debuts — long before the era of Fried Coke, the Texas Twang-Kie and Big Red Chicken Bread.

State Fair of Texas

The winners of the 2019 Big Tex Choice Awards, the top three spots in the coveted culinary contest, have been crowned.

In the Best Taste – Savory category, Ruth's Stuffed Fried Taco Cone by Ruth Hauntz took first place. Big Red Chicken Bread by Brent and Juan Reaves of Smokey John's Bar-B-Que was named Best Taste – Sweet. As for the Most Creative category, the Fla'Mango Tango by the Garza Family took the top spot.

State Fair of Texas

The judges have spoken — the top 10 finalists in the 2019 Big Tex Choice Awards are here.

These finalists made it through the last round of judging, which included with 33 entries. Each tempting dish was judged on four criteria: uniqueness, creativity, presentation and taste.

State Fair of Texas

Hold onto your hats — the 2019 State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Awards Semi-Finalists have been announced. And just about every style of food is fair game — Tex-Mex, Barbecue, Creole, Cajun, Southern and Asian.

Anita McHaney displays a photo of her beets and carrots. She and her husband stopped farming after learning that they could not sell pickled beets.
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

In a victory for home cooks across Texas, the Legislature has expanded the state’s definition of the word “pickle,” allowing for pickled beets, carrots and other produce to be easily sold at farmers’ markets alongside pickled cucumbers.

The Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the food industry on Thursday, urging companies to get behind the initiative to standardize the use of the phrase "best if used by" on packaged food labels.

From Texas Standard:

Whataburger ranks No. 7 among the country's Top 10 burger chains. But here in Texas, few brands, burger or otherwise, inspire as much loyalty. News that the company has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to "explore our options," which it said in a statement to the San Antonio Business Journal, has many fans worried about its future. Whataburger's motivation isn't clear, but expansion could be on the menu.

From Texas Standard:

On Sunday thousands of fish, crabs and other sea life washed up dead on beaches surrounding Galveston Bay. The Texas Department of State Health Services has warned people not to eat any seafood from the area, and it halted oyster harvesting in the bay indefinitely.


The country's biggest milk-maker is based in Dallas, and business at Dean Foods has, well, soured. First-quarter sales were down, and milk consumption in general is declining. Meanwhile, Dean faces more competition for milk production.

What’s the first food item that jumps into your head when you think of Texas? BBQ? Queso? Breakfast tacos?

All reasonable choices. But you’d be missing the obvious, a food item that bears the name of the state: Texas toast.

Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst joins host Robin Young to celebrate spring with a rhubarb cake, a strawberry-rhubarb crumble and a caramelized maple-rhubarb soda.


A new study says the more eggs you eat — mostly because of the cholesterol inside ­— the more you’re at risk for heart disease and premature death.

This big, beautiful carrot has nicks and dings, but "it doesn't affect the taste," says Imperfect Produce's Tony Masco. "If you're looking for something big and bold, you're still going to get it."
Rachel Osier Lindley / KERA News

Think of the last time you shopped for food. Those sliding glass doors open, and you're greeted by orderly rows of apples, pears and leafy green lettuce.

That's because the supermarket produce aisle is like a popular nightclub — not everyone gets in.

The Nashville Hot Chicken from Ida Claire in Plano: spicy fried chicken breast, pimento cheese toast, pickled cucumbers and onion
Ida Claire / Facebook

If you're still looking to firm up brunch plans for Cinco de Mayo or Mother's Day, you could head to Addison's Ida Claire and Plano's Whiskey Cake — both made OpenTable's 2019 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America list.

During these troubled times in Venezuela, the mango has a new identity.

"We call them 'the noise takers' because they calm down the noise that our stomachs make when we are hungry," says Danilson Hernández, who manages a modest business that upholsters vehicles in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

And there are a lot of hungry people in crisis-ridden Venezuela. Nearly 90 percent of families don't earn enough money to buy the food they need, according to the latest Life Conditions National Survey, run annually by college professors.

From Texas Standard:

Ranchers and cattlemen have some beef with U.S. meatpackers. They claim the meatpackers are purposefully driving down the price the cattle raisers get for their beef. In 2015, meatpackers started to pay ranchers less for their cattle. It would make sense then, that the price of ribeye in the supermarket would also drop around that time. But that didn't happen.

Meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron or HelloFresh promise gourmet meals without the hassle of shopping for ingredients. But the environmentally conscious consumer may feel guilty about seeing all the plastic and cardboard it takes to bring that Pork and Veggie Bibimbap to their doorstep.

Like many food writers, Erin Byers Murray enjoys taking a deep dive into learning the history and nuances of specific ingredients.

About 11 million deaths a year are linked to poor diet around the globe.

What's driving this? As a planet we don't eat enough healthy foods including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. At the same time, we consume too many sugary drinks, too much salt and too much processed meat.

Charles Gourd's garden is so big that before he installed irrigation, it could take three hours to water everything by hand. He grows beans and cucumbers that wind up archways you can walk underneath and pluck the ripe vegetables as though they're growing in thin air.

Food distributor Marty Renaud (right) hands a fruit popsicle to eighth grader Mia Martinez at Dallas ISD's Fresh Food Fest on March 28, 2019.
Miguel Perez / KERA News

The Dallas school district hosted a taste test of potential menu items Thursday, and the food went before about 150 of the toughest critics: children.

Bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to catching, selling and eating fish.

For certain snappers, in fact, a market preference for plate-size whole fillets is driving fishermen to target smaller fish. For some wild fish populations, this is a recipe for collapse.


Energy drinks have been linked to heart, nerve and stomach problems. A recent study suggests consuming even one can might affect how well your blood vessels function, too. 

Bruno Davaillon and Ricardo "Ricchi" Sanchez of the Bullion restaurant in Dallas are 2019 James Beard Award semifinalists for Best Chef: Southwest and Outstanding Pastry Chef.
Bullion via Facebook / Courtesy

Four chefs and two restaurants in Dallas are up for the prestigious James Beard Awards, which annually recognize culinary excellence. But Big D is definitely not the only Texas city to make the list.

"If you have a crappy meal, it just feels like a crappy part of my day," says Jen Van Fleet, an educator in Davenport, Iowa.

It has been a tough year in her school district. There have been new hires and budget cuts and extra work that has kept everyone busier than usual. Just before Thanksgiving, she was commiserating with her friends about the year and her mediocre lunches when someone had a brilliant idea: start a lunch club.

Kevin Drapela and his wife, Cori-Beth Tuite, found themselves at a food bank Wednesday – something they never expected.

The IRS employees from Taylor were among the federal workers who attended a resource fair hosted by the Central Texas Food Bank in response to the ongoing government shutdown.

A volunteer opens a round of Swiss cheese during the World Championship Cheese Contest, March 6, 2018, in Madison, Wis.
Associated Press

Americans are eating more cheese now than ever before: The country consumed around 37 pounds per capita in 2017. But it's not enough to make a dent in the U.S.' 1.4 billion-pound cheese surplus.