According to Wikipedia, a ” phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb (even an organ, like the appendix) is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts.” I don’t know if there is a similar syndrome involving the sensation that one misses something one never actually had, but if there is, I have that other kind of syndrome about Austin, Texas. (It seems like the Germans must have a word for this loss of, well, nothing – they are, after all, the people who brought us zeitgeist and schadenfreude). Perhaps, in the end, the right word is just plain old “envy?”
I have never been in Austin, and, in fact, I have never been in Texas. For many years, the suggestion that I voluntarily enter the Lone Star State would have prompted gales of hysterical laughter on my part. There were lots of places I wanted to see, many of which were in the Southwestern United States; none of them was in Texas. In the past few years, however, the Universe has conspired to make me yearn for this funky college town with Tex Mex food and the kind of eclectic irreverence that makes my heart go pit-a-pat. First Rachel Ray went there (back while I was still watching her miraculously get by again and again on $40.00 a Day despite many snack-related cliffhangers) and ate great food and bought adorable red cowboy boots. Next, Bobby Flay had a “Throwdown” against two very hip young women who run a business making crepes out of an Airstream Trailer. I kept reading articles in magazines about the great restaurants, the great music, the great shopping, and pretty much everything that would make me want to go somewhere. A lot.
Last week, the Austin-mania ramped up to the Omen level. In another episode of “Throwdown,” Bobby Flay competed against two Austin women calling themselves The Casserole Queens who dressed in vintage housewife attire (including heels, pearls and aprons) and delivered casseroles to their customers’ doors. Flipping through the cable guide to see what was on later, I saw that “Austin City Limits” featured Corinne Bailey Rae and K.T. Tunstall, two of my absolute favorite singers. Shortly thereafter, The Travel Channel miraculously appeared among our choices, and we watched the adorable Adam Richman eat his way through Austin. Finally, I happened on a post on “Homesick Texan” entitled “Austin and Black Beans.” I added black beans to my grocery list, but not before poking around a little more on Lisa’s site and finding her recipe for Migas, a simple dish of scrambled eggs,crisp tortillas and cheese which I have often made freestyle, but always wanted to make properly. I decided that I’d serve the two dishes together as an Austin Dinner, and last night, I did.
I won’t tell you the recipes, because they are only a mouse-click away, and I want you to check out “Homesick Texan” and see what you find for yourself. (Note to the skeptical: I am not plugging “Homesick Texan” because it is written by my BFF from college or because I get a Secret Blogger Kickback; it is a far, far more famous blog than this one, and does not need my help). I will tell you that both recipes were easy to follow and yielded great results. I ended up abandoning the flour tortilla in which I had wrapped my migas, and mixing the beans with my eggs. Mmmmmmm.
Maybe some day I’ll be in Austin eating black beans and carrying a big bag with my new cowboy boots. Until then, I’ll have Austin Envy. A plane ticket might be cheaper than analysis….