The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 498
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
influence of broader cultural trends on Texas culinary habits (and vice-versa),
and the meaning and origins of McQueary's troubling, ethnically myopic desig-
nation: "Texas food."
Unfortunately, McQueary has settled for a less probing notion of intimacy that
will be of limited interest to serious scholars. Fans of Mary Farrell and Elizabeth
Silverthorne's First Ladies of Texas: The Fzrst One Hundred Years (1976) and anyone
with a fetish for the stately compound at 1010o Colorado St. will find the book
entertaining and well worth the two hundred-plus recipes. Even history buffs,
though, will stumble over the book's considerable analytical problems.
McQueary's resources, most notably a deep wealth of gubernatorial lore, clearly
have the potential to reveal more than mildly edifying factoids about dishware,
interior decoration, and gardening decisions. Nonetheless, in the course of this
fragmented book, we learn that the mansion's walls were papered for the first
time in 1891 (p. 70), that Sallie Culberson "was the first lady who served cran-
berry sauce at the mansion in individual molds" (p. 75), and that the "[t]wo
large evergreen shrubs Maud [Sterling] set out at the front of the house thrived
there for at least two decades" (p. 134).
These tidbits wouldn't be so troubling were it not for McQueary's omission of
two questions essential to his topic. First, where did the ingredients that went
into the first families' lavish meals come from? In the most insightful culinary
history, food preparation is treated as an extensive social process central to our
understanding of material life's natural rhythms. Instead of elucidating that
process for elite Texans, however, McQueary hides repeatedly behind the pas-
sive voice and explains (to cite just a couple of examples) that "Margaret had the
evening meal served" (p. 24), or that "[h]ogs were slaughtered" (p. 16). Why
not leave the elegant table for a while and bring us into the slaughterhouse? The
fact that the first families avoided the messy reality of food production does not
give the historian dispensation to do the same.
Second, McQueary repeatedly refers to "Texas food" and "Texas cooking"
without defining these ambiguous concepts. "The essence of the state's cuisine"
(p. 259) might have remained "the same" (p. 259) under Laura Bush's tenure,
for example, but what is that essence? What are we to make of the family's
"Cowboy Cookies" recipe, calling as it does for cinnamon, vanilla extract, choco-
late, and "sweetened flake coconut"- none of which are even remotely native to
Texas? (Plus, what cowboy in his right mind would admit to a hankering for
"sweetened flake coconut"?)
To its credit, Dinzng at the Governor's Mansion introduces a fine topic and
unearths some excellent sources. Nevertheless, like a "Sam Houston White
Cake" (p. 26) made without baking powder, it never rises to its potential.
Texas State University-San Marcos JAMES MCWILLIAMS
The Great Storm: The Hurricane Diary of J. T. Kzng. By Lisa Waller Rogers.
(Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2002, Pp. vi+154. Illustrations, pho-
tos, biographical note. ISBN 0-89672-478-6. $14.50, cloth.)
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/556/: accessed April 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.