Go Texan or Go Home

Although the Go Texan Restaurant Roundup kicked off this past Monday, it's not too late to support the Lone Star State while eating at some of Houston's best eateries.

Each year, the Restaurant Roundup celebrates and promotes Texas agriculture as well as locally grown, locally produced or locally made Texas products. And in Houston's case, the restaurants that are participating are also donating a portion of their proceeds during the week to the Houston Food Bank, so it's a win-win situation all around.

Unlike Houston Restaurant Week, there are no deep-discount prices on bulk dinners. Instead, participating restaurants are focusing on using the best Texas food products and spotlighting them on lunch and dinner menus, in an effort to bring greater awareness to the bounty of food we produce right in our own backyards.

Over a Texas-size breakfast at Lola yesterday morning, Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples spoke to a group that included Senator John Whitmire and Foodways Texas co-founder Robb Walsh about the importance of promoting Texas foods. It was an almost perfect response to Nishta Mehra's question earlier this week: What separates Texas cuisine from Southern cooking?

The short answer: Texas cuisine is whatever we make of it, whether it be chili made with Texas grass-fed beef or fresh field peas from East Texas.

Robb Walsh came away with another interesting answer: Texas food is the mom-and-pop places in small towns -- regardless of what food they're making precisely -- and the grandmas selling pies at roadside stands and farmers' markets. Yes, this is the same "cottage food" movement that's cropping up across the country in encouragement of allowing these folks to remain in place, to keep baking and cooking as they have for years. But it's just as important in Texas as anywhere else; after all, isn't a region defined by the food that its most down-home people cook?

You can help support the cottage food movement -- your local food producers -- by eating at the restaurants that feature their products during the Go Texan Restaurant Roundup. At Eddie V's, Boggy Creek Farms corn mingles with freshly caught Gulf shrimp, while at Hugo's you'll find cheeses from Beaumont and Sealy on the menu with Central Texas wild boar.

A full list of restaurants can be found here, but the menus aren't just limited to Houston. Restaurants from Kingwood to Katy are participating, too. Go Texan week ends tomorrow, October 1, so get your grub on soon.

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