The Gulf Coast was the first site of European exploration in Texas with the remains of the ill-fated Narváez Expedition landing somewhere on or close to Galveston Island in 1528. Their experience in the first year along the Texas Gulf Coast prompted Cabeza de Vaca and other survivors to later call the area, Isla de Malhado, or roughly, Island of Misfortune. While the Texas coast today features a massive oil industrial complex, several of the largest ports in the world, and two sites for outer space exploration and research with NASA and SpaceX, the coastal regions have always boasted unique and varied foodways that require stewardship of and respect for their environments. The weather can be harsh and unforgiving as de Vaca noted nearly 500 years ago, but the abundance of the region has kept folks returning even after terrible disasters.
The 2018 Foodways Texas symposium, “Shrimp and Grit: Food and Community Along the Texas Gulf Coast,” focuses on the joys and struggles of life on the Texas Gulf Coast as seen through its foodways. From Port Isabel to Orange, Gulf Coast Texans fish, farm, ranch, eat, celebrate, and regularly rebuild. With “Shrimp and Grit, we will explore the effects of hurricanes and other natural calamities on the food supply chain and the communities along the coast, we will note the histories of prominent and hidden food industries, and meet folks who make food and feeding communities their life in the region.
2018 Program highlights:
Author Terry Thompson-Anderson and historian Kay Betz of the History Center for Aransas County will discuss the foodways of the Coastal Bend
Dr. Ashley Ross of Texas A&M, Galveston, describes her recent project on food and natural disaster and Joel & Leticia Garcia of Joy Ministries tell us a bit about their work in Refugio.
Robb Walsh returns from abroad to regale us with stories of boudin kolaches.
Filmmaker Keeley Steenson treats us to a new film on Cambodian Donut Shops in the Houston area as well as a panel discussion with folks from the film.
David Leftwich will bring together friends who helped feed survivors and volunteers during Hurricane Harvey.
The Gulf Coast Food Project at the University of Houston is launching a new oral history project. Professors Monica Perales and Todd Romero will share what they have planned and what needs to be done.
We launched the idea of appellation oysters in the Gulf region at our first symposium in 2011. We’ll revisit that idea with a discussion of the current state of the oyster industry and the toll the environment has taken on gulf oysters.
Journalist Chris Reid and recently retired pitmaster Byron Johnson of Byron’s Gourmet Bar-B-Que will tell stories about barbecue along the gulf coast and the southeast-Texas born delicacy, “juicy links.”
So please join us April 12-14 in Houston, where you’ll hear all of these talks and more while enjoying meals from chefs Hugo Ortega (Hugo's, Backstreet Cafe, Caracol, Xochi), Bryan Caswell (REEF, El Real Mexican Restaurant), Rebecca Masson (Fluff Bake Bar), restaurants Goode Company Armadillo Palace and Winbern Mess Hall, as well as food wholesaler Cake & Bacon, among others.
2018 Symposium Locations:
April 12th (6 p.m.) – Winbern Mess Hall
April 13th (9 a.m.) – Goode Co. Armadillo Palace & El Real Tex Mex
April 14th (9 a.m.) – OKRA Charity Saloon and 8th Wonder Brewery
Hotel Room Block information:
Houston Marriott Medical Center/Museum District
6580 Fannin Street
Houston, TX 77030
Booking Line: 1-800-228-9290
Ask for the Foodways Texas room rate.