I'll keep it short and sweet: I loved The Homesick Texan. I picked it up after spending the fall cooking from a Syrian Christian cookbook followed by Burma, and while I love novelty and challenge, opening Homesick Texan was like getting off an 18 hour flight from Asia, stretching out on the sofa with a cold drink, and turning on Friday Night Lights.
The book has flaws. Fain neglects to mention the size of pans in her dessert section (where it matters!) and seems to think that adding 1/2 teaspoon of Mexican chocolate to a gallon of chili could possibly affect the flavor. The recipes are not blazingly original and maybe not even original at all, as some Chowhound naysayers have suggested. But what great recipes are? People regularly give Marcella Hazan credit for pork loin braised in milk, but the dish appeared in Ada Boni's Talisman Cookbook decades before Marcella started writing. And who knows where Boni got it? Who cares? It's a living, breathing recipe, not a military code, and the further it travels the better. Right?
Ah, but there are gray areas. I'm seeing more and more of them as I type. Much to say on the subject of recipe plagiarism, but I haven't figured out exactly what I think and in the interest of finishing this post I will do that figuring out later. Last December when I first opened The Homesick Texan, I just wanted to eat delicious tacos, chili, and enchiladas, and the recipes inside helped me do that. The end.
By the numbers:
worth the price of the book -- 1 (marinated skirt steak from the small apartment tacos)
great -- 13 (chili, posole, meat loaf)
good -- 30
so-so -- 7
flat out bad -- 0
Shelf essential? If you've already have cherished recipes for Tex-Mex classics, you don't need this book. I don't and do.