Examined Eating in Houston, Texas

Pomegranate seed and spinach… make a fantastic sweet, savory, slightly bitter, crunchy and leafy filling for a South Indian style dosa. Who knew! Pondicheri in Houston combines traditional Indian dishes with innovative ingredients with amazing finesse. We sought out Pondicheri (it was mentioned on a Food Network type show) during my recent trip to Houston. It was worth the drive and a wonderful start to a day in the museum district. The keema was delicately spiced and light in texture (almost as good as my sister’s). Even the breads traditionally fried in oil, like paratas, where somehow dry and crispy, flavored by fillings instead. Described online as “Texan Indian Food” it was a good example of a transnational dual appreciation of distant tradition and local taste.  It was a beautiful experience.

In the theme of transnational appreciation and local identity, our afternoon in Old Town Spring was just as fun. Loaded Nachos at the Loose Caboose, lured the tourist in us with barbecue brisket over nachos, the lovechild of Tex-Mex and Texas Barbecue.. The combination of barbecue sauce and nacho cheese was surprisingly tangy-salty delicious.

In contrast to the picnic table, plastic fork, paper towels, liquid cheese, shredded meat and sweet-spicy sauce playful experience, our lunch at the Black Sheep Bistro in Old Town Spring was sophisticated, white table cloth, fork-knife, delicate, plated and refined. Jim’s halibut over spinach was my favorite. The cultural origin of the dish didn’t matter. It was just tasty.

We ate very well in Houston, at home and out. From Pondicheri I learned that I can mix textures, fruits and vegetables, techniques without sacrificing familiar tastes. From the Loose Caboose I learned that local traditions can cross over to even more delicious territory. And, from, Black Sheep Bistro, I learned, well made food tastes good everywhere.

Cooking is an art that ranges from nachos to seared halibut and beyond. We enjoyed it all.

Bowing to innovative culinary skill,


Global Food|Local Perspectives Symposium (Follow up)

This afternoon we were treated to an insightful conversation (and delicious tastes), thanks to Kera Lovell, Dr. Simone Cinotto, and the panelists. It was a perfect example of a global community of considerate hungry philosophers coalescing around a table of diverse international, transnational, post colonial, immigrant and local tastes.

Dr. Simone Cinotto opened the symposium with a multidimensional talk addressing the unique immigrant conditions that included class, race, policy and lead to chicken parmesan and spaghetti and meatballs on the The Italian American Table.

The first panelist, Kirsten, shared sausage pasta (sausage sourced from Sheep Dog Farms) and the challenges of developing the menu around local produce and concerns of food sensitivities, of the dominance of standardized processed foods, of her own evolution as an eater, a farmer and as a restaurateur of La Scala and Restauration.

Next, Minal talked about the difficulty of procuring spices and Indian ingredients, about moving to West Lafayette, about the diversity of her menu and the value of authenticity, about her joy in serving the student community through fun snack foods, like the samosas she offered from Shaukin.

Finally, with two beautiful Thai desserts Chef Ake spoke of constant learning, of food waste, of social media and reviews, of Thai culinary history and of running Thai Essence.

It was certainly one of the most interesting (as it was supported and/or attracted multiple different disciplines that included Hospitality and Tourism Management, Linguistics, Italian Studies, American Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies and more) and definitely the tastiest symposium I have ever had the pleasure of attending.

The Thai desserts were very new to me. Loved them. One was a cross between a cake and a custard, while the other sweet egg flower dessert was very delicate. Both beautiful. I’ll have to learn more about those. I’d also like to learn more about the farms that Kirsten sources her produce and meats from. I’d like to conduct a “tour of India” through Minal’s regional snack foods and discover the seemingly familiar anew. I’m ready to learn more. And eat. More.

Excellent organizing and curating, Kera!

For those of you unable to attend, please support these local establishments, stretch your mind and your stomachs. For those of you far away, please support your local restaurants that work hard to create fresh delicious experiences. Try something different. Give a new taste a mouth hug. Spread the curiosity and joy.

May we all together cultivate a community of considerate consumers (sorry, couldn’t help that easy alliteration).

Wishing you a flavorful weekend ahead,