The South is the epicentre of the American food movement, with New Orleans and its shellfish restaurants, Memphis’s soul food, the Bullitts’ Southern cooking at Nashville’s Red Studio and South Carolina’s antebellum cookbooks. But with just a smattering of touristy American-style restaurants, what does that make what else?
Held on 11 May, Paul Prudhomme’s Bar-B-Que Safari in Galveston, Texas, allows Americans to sample Louisianan barbecue in its birthplace. I made the trip with a young colleague. She had a deep knowledge of her profession, but I am decidedly less so – and one of us was going to have to watch our food intake.
The Bayou – Tour of Texas (Blair Riverside hotel, Galveston, from £18 pp) is an oceanfront crescent in Galveston. It’s not the only one, but there’s something special about this place, partly because it’s in Texas, and partly because, as you can see from the photos, it has all of the seasonal decorations of a small coastal village.
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I’d always wanted to eat in a duck shack – and there were a few before I got there. After a bit of a wait, we got served, along with some slower patrons who weren’t sure about a young woman sitting in front of them. (Luckily, the duck shack told them it was me.)
My companion was uncertain if I was “normal” and prepared to ask any number of things, like whether or not I had eaten at the local restaurants, which I didn’t. Also, didn’t I live in a house that belonged to an immigrant? We took a few steps back before continuing our stroll. I asked if I could read the names of the plateaux, (I was prepared to read it too). “That’s just paperwork,” she said. “You can always pick it up later.”
I took out my tour book: Le Grand Bouffe (Mont-Moriches, New York from £30 pp). Gwyneth Paltrow filmed the smash-hit 2006 movie based on this gastronomic tour of the New York suburbs, leading our small group on its lap of honour. It’s a showstopper: every ingredient is butter, cream, and cream cheese. Yes, cream cheese. When in doubt, check the rules.
The authentic fish markets were shut. However, we did have access to authentic bars that, like Le Grand Bouffe, opened when they had their own liquor licenses. La Gauche de Boston (120 Center Street, Boston, from £4 pp) was a perfect pintxos bar. It had a small menu, but served the most spectacular cocktails made with the many types of good American liquors. My companion opted for the blue cheese margarita, which had a pleasant taste of oak. She left a note: “Can I thank Paul for allowing me to buy the Blue Apple.”
We departed the city, wondering about the next bar – one of Prudhomme’s epicurean getaways. When I returned, my friend was dribbling milkshakes over my face. I thought, why is she squirting free ice cream all over me?
I cried when I got home.
Paul Prudhomme’s Bar-B-Que Safari
Paul Prudhomme’s Bar-B-Que Safari offers customers an opportunity to sample the city’s oldest neighborhood bar scene.
Where to eat
Velma’s Lagniappe (Tates River, Galveston, from £18 pp) is a hub of Galveston’s creative, bite-sized southern dishes such as beef tongue, cochina muffins and catfish carpaccio.
Cheeky Monkey Flea Market (Cypress Street, Galveston, £2.50pp)
This is what life is like on the bayou. A good spot for what we came here for – hipster food stalls.
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