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FTX: Foodways Texas

The FTX Founding 50

Foodways Texas (FTX) was formed this week in a three day organizational gathering at Texas A&M. The founding group of 50 came from all over the state and included academics, chefs, food producers and food writers. They adopted this mission statement: The mission of Foodways Texas is to preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas.

Hanna Raskin at the Dallas Observer filed this report about the FTX meeting:

The Southern Foodways Alliance, an 800-member organization that’s stimulated serious scholarly discussion of barbecue and pinto beans; produced dozens of movies on edible topics ranging from Sazeracs to pig ear sandwiches; rebuilt a New Orleans fried chicken shack devastated by Hurricane Katrina; and collected hundreds of oral histories from oystermen, boudin makers and hot tamale shop owners, got its start with an invitation.

In 1999, writer John Egerton beckoned 50 Southern food folks to join him in Birmingham, Alabama, to puzzle out the mission and meaning of the organization he’d been contemplating. This year, former Houston Press food critic and cookbook author Robb Walsh decided to do the same.

“With the blessing and the assistance of the SFA, we are holding a similar organizational meeting this summer,” Walsh, seafood dealer Jim Gossen, chefs Bryan Caswell and Alan Lazarus and Texas A&M meat science professors Jeff Savell and Davey Griffin wrote in an e-mail sent last month to 50 Texas ranchers, chefs, food writers, chuckwagon cooks, restaurant owners and academics. “We would like to invite you to join us in creating a group we are calling Foodways Texas (FTX).”

Texas is a Southern state by Southern Foodways Alliance’s reckoning. But the state’s vast size means few Texans can participate fully in the organization, which is based in Oxford, Mississippi. And Texas has plenty of its own food traditions to study, few of which are found anywhere else. Ergo, Foodways Texas.

I was among the FTX members who gathered in College Station this week to elect a board and hammer out a mission statement (and, since we were in Aggieland, take a crash course in cow anatomy and drink flaming Dr Pepper shots with the undergrads at the Dry Bean Saloon.)

Walsh wants me to emphasize there’s much more to come from FTX, but I can report that the group’s on course to define, document and support Texas food — and have fun doing it. According to the official mission statement, modeled after the Southern Foodways Alliance’s first draft, FTX will “protect, preserve and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas.”

So there might be symposia, or cooking classes, or culinary tours, or extensive oral history projects. Nobody really knows yet. FTX still hasn’t set up a bank account or determined a membership structure. But whatever happens should be worth the wait. I promise to keep you updated.

13 comments to FTX: Foodways Texas

  • Scott

    Congratulations on the formation of this group.

    I imagine, that you mean John Edge not John Egerton as the one forming the group in Alabama. He is in Oxford, Ms. and has unique tastes and is involved in the Southern Food Alliance.

  • Rob Hays

    Fantastic news! I found out about SFA a while back through John T. Edge and Billy Reid, and I’ve long hoped that their focus would fall on Texas folk cuisine, too.

    When does pre-registration for Kolaches 101 start?

  • robbwalsh

    It was, in fact, cookbook author and Southern food philosopher John Egerton who invited the 50 participants to the SFA organizing meeting. The idea was hatched at a symposium held by John T Edge who then became the group’s executive director and spokesman.

    It will take some time for FTX to get organized and raise money. I’d guess the group will begin actively recruiting members in the fall.

  • Jose Solis

    This is great news! Congratulations! When you need more support in a few months, let me know!

  • Shame you can’t see BEEF CENTER in the photo!

    All the same, I’m super excited about this. It’s exactly what Texas needs. It was great to be able to spy the meeting briefly while cooking lunch for everyone, and I’m confident that you put together the right group of people to get the job done perfectly.

    Put me down for a membership! Texas forever!

  • Glad to hear this group is getting underway! I’m happy to help however I can…

  • What a wonderful development! I’d love to help get this organization going. I’m the author of the book Growing Good Things To Eat in Texas: Profiles of Organic Farmers and Ranchers across the State (TAMU Press, 2009) and for the past 12 years have worked actively in local farm and food community development at the grass roots level.

  • Brazos

    Read the story in the Chron yesterday and it just made my day. Congrats on being a director (if I read that right)

  • Elizabeth White

    As a collector of Texas cookbooks and culinary history, I am delighted that you and others have formed Foodways Texas. I will help in any way that I can. The 2nd edition of my Texas cookbook bibliography will be published in a couple years. This will include materials up to 1986 and list the libraries in Texas where the books can be found. I think this will be a good resource for those working on the history of Texas Foodways.

  • Amazing meeting (and food), Robb. Kudos for all your efforts in making this dream a reality. Huge accomplishment!

    Here’s a link to Greg Morago’s FTX story that made the Chronicle’s food section last Wed for all your readers:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/food/7116915.html

  • Ren

    This is great news! Can’t wait to sign up!

  • Jorge Canavati

    This is very exciting! I just became a member. I have all of Robb Walsh’s books, Read them all and are a key resource to me.

  • Jorge Canavati

    I signed up today for BBQ Summer Camp 🙂
    Looking forward to it!