The TX/OU game is coming up soon and one of the best parts of OU weekend is the State Fair of Texas. The State Fair of Texas has been taking place in Dallas since 1886. It’s a time when Texans come together to try new rides, take pictures with Big Tex (thank goodness they fixed him after he caught on fire), sell their artwork, show off their award winning farm animals, and most importantly gorge themselves on fried food. The State Fair recently released their list of new foods that will be available and I’m going to share the items I’m most looking forward to and the best way to prepare for your oncoming food coma.
Chocolate Tease Wine cooler: Chocolate and wine are a very popular pairing. This year the State Fair has decided to put them together to create a refreshing drink. And, if you’re anything like me and love wine and chocolate I’m sure we’ll run into each other in line in a few weeks. (21+)
Deep Fried Clam chowder: I’ve always been mystified by deep fried liquids. It almost seems to defy logic. How do you fry something into a ball that has no shape? The State Fair has figure it out. And, I’m not complaining. They previously had fried coke and fried ice cream which, were both delicious. I’m sure the savory fried liquid combo won’t be any different.
Deep Fried Cannoli Bites: One of my favorite deserts are cannoli. I don’t know if I love the sweet fluffy cream in the middle or the crispy flaky shell more. But, either way I’m excited to see the State Fair’s take on this classic Italian dessert. As every good Texan knows, everything is better deep fried. I can’t imagine cannoli being any different.
The weeks before the State Fair of Texas I like to eat healthy and workout. I don’t want to feel gross about the number of calories I’m about to intake in a few weeks. So, I like to make sure I’m in a healthy state before I go to the fair. I view the fair as my ultimate cheat day. You can’t have a cheat day if you haven’t been following your regimen. This reassures me that my gluttony is actually well deserved. Not something I should be ashamed about. I want the food I eat at the fair to be something I enjoy. Not something I end up regretting.
Recently, the MPA International Connection hosted a potluck where international students shared foods from their respective home countries. Fortunately, they invited all of us to come and try them out. In good spirit, the domestic students brought some of their own food to share with the international students. Career Consultant Dawn Shaw was there, too, helping promote unity among the varied group of students in the MPA program.
About 25 students brought food from China, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Mexico, Hawaii, and elsewhere. My only regret is that I didn’t save more room for the Korean BBQ. A bigger sampling might have given me enough ammo to write about another stop on my “BBQ trail” even though it’s pretty different from Texas BBQ. There was so much food that I didn’t get to eat a substantial amount of any one dish, but I do not regrettaking the opportunity to try out each one. My contribution, being a southerner, wassouthern-style sweet tea. I made a regular sweet tea version and another one infused with fruit.
Altogether, it was a great way to branch out and try something new that you would not otherwise be exposed to. I have always enjoyed eating foreign foods, but there’s nothing like home-cooking. That is a truism that transcends national and cultural boundaries. It also provided a venue to better get to know some fellow students who we may not have known at all otherwise.
That there is enough interest in an event like this is a testament to the diversity of the Texas MPA class, which is a quality important to me. I have enjoyed my travels outside the US and look forward to future travels, but experiencing fellowship in this context with others who are outside their home countries is the next best thing.
Back on the Central-Texas Barbecue Trail, my next stop was the world-famous Franklin BBQ. A relative newcomer to the barbecue scene compared to the longstanding Salt Lick, Aaron Franklin opened up shop in 2009 in a parking lot in East Austin. It wasn’t long before it was being hailed as the best barbecue in central Texas, and as I’ve related in my other posts that’s really saying something!
After talking about going all semester, a group of us MPAs decided to go on the Saturday before Thanksgiving since there was not a lot going on school-wise during that short week before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. In what was probably the worst weather we will experience here in Austin, we set out to Franklin at about 10:00am.
Upon arrival, we immediately recognized that our theory of “since the weather is so bad, there won’t be that many people waiting,” was not only shared by many others, but also was most definitely incorrect. Even with a temperature in the 30s with light rain sprinkling randomly, there was a line winding through the parking lot almost to the next block. A hostess came through the line to ask what we were going to order and she let us know that the estimated time of arrival at the front of the line was about 1:00pm.
If you make it to Franklin BBQ, make sure you bring friends because you won’t want to just order a sandwich. You can order by the pound, and after a three hour wait you would have wasted your time to only get a personal plate. There were six of us, so we ordered 4 pounds of brisket, 2 racks of pork ribs, and 1 pound of sausage.
I’m not sure if it was the wait or if I was just happy to be inside out of the horrible weather, but as we started to feast on the smorgasbord of barbecue, we all knew that it was worth it. The brisket was far superior to anything else I have tried in Texas, and the sausage was incredible. There were several options for sauce on the table, and they liberally handed out white sandwich bread that we could use as a vehicle for transporting the barbecue to our stomachs. All in all, Franklin BBQ did not disappoint even with the unusually long wait – if you’re in Austin, you’ll have to make time for Franklin in addition to Salt Lick!
Finals week, unarguably, is one of the most stressful weeks for MPA students. Fortunately, UT and Austin provide a vast number of self-care options for students when things get a little stressful. The city boasts enough diverse activities that there are options for everyone. Whenever my brain needs to take a break from accounting or from anything school-related, here are some of the things I do to rejuvenate:
1) Cooking. Austin has to be among the best cities to get the freshest ingredients to the dishes you are making. I frequent grocery stores HEB on 41st and Red River, Central Market on 38th and N. Lamar, and Whole Foods on 6th and N. Lamar, all of which are a 10-minute drive away from campus. I also go to the Austin Farmers’ Market downtown on Saturdays and at the Triangle on N. Lamar on Wednesdays. Local farmers from the Central Texas area sell fresh produce and other local products that you would not find elsewhere. Not only are their goods fresh, but they are fairly cheap, too! Continue reading When Things Get Stressful…→
Thanksgiving brought a busy half week of engaging with family and avoiding anything explicitly school related. I returned to Austin late Saturday night, woke up Sunday and went to Starbucks to begin my lasttax research memo!! As I turned on my computer and logged onto the Starbucks page, I found a fascinating video entitled Ripe for Change.
Since I am an expert procrastinator, the topic of anything but tax research caught my eye. Since I am from California, this topic of food production hits close to home. And as we just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, food seemed to be an appropriate topic. Watching the video, I found that the issues it addresses within the food industry are highly relevant to us as accountants.
One such issue is regulation. The tensions between the need for regulation and its burden have been prevalent recently, and are particularly relevant in the financial industry that many of us will enter from the MPA program.
In the documentary as multiple farmers comment on the same trend, for example mechanical picking, we see that there is not always a clear cut way to respond to the availability of new technology or situations; we even see that sometimes the alleged problem is not as obvious as it seems. Continue reading Thankful for Home→