Our former Englishman in barbecue sauce, BBQ critic and web editor Gavin Cleaver, had to return home to England many months ago thanks to pesky U.S. immigration law. He still keeps a place in his heart and stomach for Dallas food, though. Here are six things that have him cranking up Gary P. Nunn and getting all weepy — with some adorable cockney chimney sweeps dancing around in the background, no doubt.
The Cuban sandwich at the Cuban Dulceria in Carrollton and the meaty, cheesy Satan that was the addictive Cuban at C Senor haunt my dreams. Sometimes they call to me across a major body of water. London has no answer to the Cuban sandwich, instead preferring some sort of weird paella/tapas/Cuban hybrid, often in a "theme."
"Swim, Gavin! Swim to Texas!" the two legit all-time top 10 sandwiches I've eaten seem to shout, seemingly unaware that such a journey would be both dangerous and require a major detour around the bottom of Florida. Nevertheless, if there was a guarantee that both sandwiches would be waiting for me in Galveston, I'd probably give it a go.
If anything keeps me awake at night, it's the thought that I could, right now, be eating the fried chicken that was obtainable from Tto Tto Wa until 2 a.m. every night. The ultimate late-night drunk food, the painful spiciness of the red delight coating every crispy inch of this thrice-fried chicken was only offset by the odd cooling sensation that comes from huffing cubes of pickled radish.
If Tto Tto Wa would mail me chicken, I would pay the import fees. Hell, I'd pay them to open a Tto Tto Wa, with the sole proviso that the restaurant only seat one person and operate out of my kitchen in tropical South London. It is unfathomable to me that I will never eat that chicken again. I'm planning a trip back which doesn't involve visiting anyone, just living at Tto Tto Wa.
There's nothing quite like describing to a British person that some of the best food in Dallas was served out of gas stations. The idea of combining the refueling of one's car with the refueling of one's self, which now seems so simple to me, did at first seem outlandish, I will admit.
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Furthermore, explaining to them that the even better food was served from a cart on the gas station forecourt, and consisted partially of warm mayonnaise, is enough to get you carted off to whatever passes for an insane asylum in socialist Europe.
I would probably kill for more elotes. Don't quote me on that.
I don't even remember what a po'boy really is, truly. I know it was some kind of sandwich, sure. I'm certain seafood was involved at some point. But that's all I've got. The rest is lost in some kind of salty haze of something called gumbo and a sausage named boudin.
All I know is that if Deep Ellum's Alligator Cafe opened in London, it would make a lot of money. A lot. Maybe even enough to afford a property in London.
The actual prince of fast foods, the king of burgers (OOH HIGH-LEVEL BURN), open 24 hours a day, milkshakes. It's not so much that burgers in London aren't fit to tie Whataburger's shoelaces, it's that they're not fit to hold the candle which illuminates the view of the person tying Whataburger's shoelaces.
Sometimes I dream I have a Whataburger bacon and avocado burger. It is a fevered dream, involving Whataburger gravy, salty fries, the greatest fast food burger to ever stride atop this blue marble the Lord has given us, and me. Also maybe a Whataburger cinnamon bun. Then I awake from this dream, and I realize the nearest Whataburger is over 5,000 miles away, and I weep. I weep for the burgers I've lost.
My wife wrote a poem about Waffle House once. How do you think it feels to know I will never serve another hangover inside its battered, jukebox-fueled interior? It wounds me. I am a man adrift.