The melting pot still stirs

Aisle sign, Hong Kong Food Market in Houston, Texas (Scarborough photo)These two photos were taken in a giant Asian market and in a small Czech/German bakery.

Where are these food emporiums?

Both are in Texas.

On a recent road trip to Houston, we stopped in the Czech and German stronghold of La Grange.

(Yes, it was THAT La Grange, made famous by the rock band ZZ Top and the Chicken Ranch brothel from the musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”)

Homemade noodles, Weikel’s Bakery, La Grange Texas (Scarborough photo)

Along with some de-lish Czech kolaches and pigs-in-blankets (bread-wrapped sausage,) the Weikel’s Bakery product line includes bags of fresh, homemade noodles.

There are plenty of store patrons who still make “schnitzel with noodles,” if you remember Fraulein Maria’s favorites in the “Sound of Music.”

Many Czechs and Germans settled in this part of the state starting in the 1840s and 1850s; that’s why sausage is a big deal with our BBQ,  Spoetzl Brewery’s Shiner beer is popular, there are active Texas polka radio stations and you can find kolaches (a fruit or cheese-filled Czech pastry) in a small town between Austin and Houston.

Sprawling Houston (quite a boomtown these days, according to Newsweek) has numerous ethnic enclaves.

The Hong Kong Food Market that we visited was one of four; it anchors a large Asian population in the southwestern part of the city.  The “Hong Kong” in the name is a misnomer – the products were Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Korean.

The live catfish that was yanked out of its tank in the seafood section and gutted on the spot (while still flopping) was almost as mesmerizing as the rows of interesting foodstuffs.

Hmm, catfish with some hoisin sauce on top of noodles, maybe?

Visit Houston in October for their big Asian Festival, held every year since 1979.

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