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Yum, Fried Bubble Gum

Top 10 State Fair of Texas foods

3. Fried Biscuits and Gravy

Since we live in the South, it's pretty safe to assume that you have tried and you like biscuits and gravy. But have you ever tried fried biscuits and gravy? If you haven't, you should, since the fried element adds a portability factor that just doesn't exist with traditional biscuits and gravy. The portability factor adds a whole new dimension to the deliciousness of this Southern delicacy. Let's face it: Sometimes having to sit down to eat something with a knife and fork just isn't much fun, especially when you're at a fair and there are things to see and things to do all around you; a sit-down meal is simply not an option.

2. Fried Chips and Salsa

Steak night happens Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Mai Pham
Steak night happens Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Are you salivating yet? My first Bernie's Bus Burger: The Homeroom.
Mai Pham
Are you salivating yet? My first Bernie's Bus Burger: The Homeroom.

Nothing screams Tex-Mex, and Texas, for that matter, quite like chips and salsa. This dish, an homage to one of Texas's all-time favorite appetizers, is a masterpiece. Tortilla chip-crusted salsa is meant to be dipped in a side of melted queso. Once the eater bites into the queso-dipped chips and salsa, they get the crunchy component of the chips, the spiciness of the salsa and the creamy greatness of queso — a trio of simple textures and flavors that simply does not compare to any other.

1. Chicken-Fried Cactus

In a state dominated by Tex-Mex cuisine, it is a mystery why the ultra-Mexican ingredient, cactus, is often overlooked and underappreciated. The mere thought of eating cactus may sound daunting to many. With its State Fair of Texas debut in a nice, chicken-fried format, cactus may have just found its breakthrough in the Texas food scene. We predict Texans will fall in love with these little chicken-fried cacti for their flavor and consistency — a bit on the slimy side — which closely resemble those of okra. And don't worry — all spines are removed prior to consumption. Go ahead, try them — you'll be screaming "gracias" to us all the way from the Big D.
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KEEP ON TRUCKIN'

Getting Mobilized
A group tries to combat food truck laws.

Do you know why you never see trucks with hot food downtown? It's because a City of Houston ordinance prohibits trucks with propane tanks from being in that area. The same goes for why there is no seating around food trucks, and really, who wants to eat standing up?

Because of these and other strange ordinances, food truck owners have banded together to form Mobile Food Unit Houston, or M.F.U. Houston for short. (Thank goodness there's an "M" in front of that.) The newly formed organization seeks to change some of the regulations that are hampering their ability to freely conduct business. A Web site has been set up at www.mfuhouston.com, and a press release was sent out last week.

The movement actually started more than two years ago as Save Our Food Trucks [see "These Men Want to Save You a Taco (Truck)" by Katharine Shilcutt, November 19, 2010].

So, why the sudden activity now after being so quiet all this time?

"It's been building behind the scenes," says J.R. Cohen, founder of SLGT (Support Local Grow Together), an initiative for businesses and consumers to support and purchase local business services and products. "We've been doing a lot of due diligence." J.R. is helping the group as a volunteer with strategy, communication and public relations. "It's an all-volunteer movement," he said. "There's no money involved here."

Cohen says that he's been passionate about food trucks and carts his whole life and that this initiative is about supporting entrepreneurs. "People come to this country and need to be able to survive. Sometimes all they have are their grandmother's recipes, and cooking food is what they use to start a business and make money. We need to support that."

Specifically, the group seeks to:

• Eliminate the requirement that there be a 60-foot distance between trucks;

• Only be required to get one liquid propane (LP) permit for multiple locations;

• Be able to park next to existing seating;

• Be able to provide limited seating of their own, up to three tables and six chairs;

• Be allowed to do business in the "District of Limitations 1," a.k.a. downtown, which requires removal of the propane restriction.

Does Cohen really think that the group has a chance of getting the regulations lifted? "I'm an optimistic person," he said. "I think we have a very good chance of getting the majority of these changed. It's really important that people support this, and them signing the petition greatly helps our chances."

The group will be presenting their recommendations for changes to the relevant ordinances in front of City Council on September 26, and an Awareness Event is planned for September 23 from 4 to 10 p.m. The location for that event will be announced later this month, but it's a sucker bet that it will be at City Hall. Phaedra Cook
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LOCAL SPOTLIGHT

Meat and Greet
Tango and Steak Night Tuesdays at MKT Bar Downtown.

It's a Tuesday night, and as I enter the MKT Bar at Phoenicia Specialty Foods Downtown, there's this kind of hazy, underground, industrial vibe going on. Strains of poignant, dramatic tango music are coming across the loudspeaker, and dancers slide and sway across the concrete floor, some with the tentative steps of beginners, others with the grace and confidence born of longtime practice.

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