Austin at a Glance

(From my ‘travel blog’ series, documenting by trip from Toronto, Canada to Mexico City by land.)

I woke up on a Texan’s couch in Austin at 10:00 am to these words:

“You ready for some bar-b-q?”

We arrived in the line up at Franklin’s Barbecue at 11:00 where a staff member told us that we were looking at a one and a half hour wait.

“Not too bad,” said my Texan host who was expecting to wait for up to two hours.

Franklin’s has been voted by several food magazines, and other advanced taste buds, to be one of the best barbeque places in North America.  It opens at 11:00 am six days a week, but people generally start lining up at 10:00am.  It’s only open for lunch and they stay open until they run out of meet, which they always do.  Today, by 1:30 they were out of ribs and pulled pork.

“An hour and a half?!  Well I sure hope it’s worth it,” said the out-of-towner behind us.

“Oh it’s worth it,” said my Texan host, “I’ve had it before. Twice. It’s worth it.”

“I hope so.  I read about this place and figured I should try it.  I don’t know about an hour and a half though.  They sure didn’t do much to dress the place up did they?  I don’t know what that says about the place.”

The out-of-towner complained for a while, yet waited nonetheless.  He and my Texan host chatted about and compared other barbeque places in the area, other towns that warranted day trips just for it.  He actually wasn’t interested in talking about anything else but barbeque.  I tried.

At the font of the line, the butcher was happily handing out samples while he was cutting your hand picked slab of meat.  The man in front of us ordered a variety of cuts, which I’m sure equaled out to be the size of a small cow.  Thankfully, he got it to go.

I don’t know if it was the best barbeque in North America, but the Texan and I ate in absolute silence, and I hardly had to chew as the tender, juicy meat melted in my mouth.

Between mouthwatering barbeque and roadside Trailer Park Diners, Austin does food well.  It’s also one of the biggest music capitals in the United States and has produced some seriously good musicians.  Like the rest of Texas, it also does things big.  It has some of the biggest and busiest roads I’ve ever seen in a city centre.  Located in the oldest state, Austin also boasts that it has the largest government building in all of the U.S., the historic Capitol.

What I’ve deduced is that Texans take their cravings and desires seriously.  Their desire for power, presence, food, and soul is emblematic all over Austin.  Not only that, but everything around the people of Austin seems designed to convince them that they’re unrivaled.  It doesn’t surprise me that there exists a minority of Texans who feel that the state should separate from the U.S. and become it’s own nation.

Before I left, my Texan host showed me Jupiter and the sun setting over the city.  I can’t say I didn’t benefit from the hospitable Texas pride.

The hour and half long line-up outside Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas (Photo: Kimberley Brown)

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