The Rio Grande running through the canyons of Big Bend National Park


Texas is big and bold. From the remote lands of Big Bend to the Texas Hill countryside, to the plains around San Antonio. The natural and also historical and cultural variety allows you to combine activities to discover national and state nature reserves and together experience the lifestyle of the west, with its dozens of museums and historical places.


*This story appears on January-February 2022 Terre & Culture magazine issue, in the section Ameritalia.


Texas is nicknamed Lone Star State and its motto is Friendship. In fact, the word Texas derives from táysha, which in the language spoken by the Hasinai Indians means "allies" or "friends".

It is located in the southern part of the United States and is part of the Southwest States. It borders Mexico to the south, Louisiana and Arkansas to the east, Oklahoma to the north-east and New Mexico to the west. To the southeast it is bathed by the Gulf of Mexico. The capital is Austin. It is the second state in both area and population, of which about 80% live in urban areas, of which about half are between Houston, the most populous city, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio. Oguna has obvious differences that characterize its peculiarities: for example, Houston is a city with a Germanic look, while Dallas is more French, Austin with its hills is the most elegant city with a better standard of living, while San Antonio, founded on a Spanish mission and with its proximity to Mexico, it makes it more Latin.

Texas is twice the size of Italy, has a great variety of natural landscapes including river plains, deserts, coastal swamps, subtropical forests, grasslands, mountains and arid regions. The coasts of the Gulf of Mexico are low and indented by bays and estuaries. They are lined with several large islands, the largest of which is Padre Island. Southern Texas is occupied by part of the coastal plain extending from Florida to Mexico, relatively flat or slightly undulating, with altitudes below 300 meters and conducive to human activities.

History Located north of the Rio Grande, Texas was initially a Spanish colony and later became part of Mexico. In 1836 its inhabitants waged a revolt against the central government which led to the establishment of a free state. After a brief period of independence as the Republic of Texas, it joined the United States in 1845. Between 1861 and 1865 it participated in the American Civil War alongside the Confederates.

Economy | Its economy is based on livestock farming, the oil industry and high technology (aerospace industry, biotechnology) which attracts numerous Latin American immigrants. The culture reflects numerous influences from Amerindian, African-American, Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic, so much so that the identity of the state is based on a lively folklore (rodeo, western, country), associated with the now mythical image of the cowboy.

When the war ended in 1885 the state underwent a notable post-war reconstruction and until the early 1900s the main activities were the production of cotton and the breeding of livestock. In 1901 oil was discovered and consequently the economic boom transformed the economy of Texas, which continued to grow, becoming in 1994 the second most populous state in the USA and one of the most diversified from an economic point of view.

A dinner organized in the halls of the Art Institute of Houston


A story of exchanging "Friendships" Between Texans and Apulians! With the word friendship I have always expressed my desire to unite these two cultures. Since I met Donna Sullivan, director of events at the Art Institute of Houston, in 1994, there have been many cultural exchanges between neo-chef students of the Culinary Institute (which Donna coordinated) and Italian students of the same sector.

The first exchange was the one I organized in Puglia in November 1998, where the student neo-chefs of the Culonary Institute in Houston and their executive chef Joe, in order to show their gratitude to their hosts, prepared, in collaboration with the neo-chef from Puglia led by Chef Mino Maggi, a typical Texan dinner.

Since Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving Day) was celebrated in the USA during their stay in Puglia, I suggested that they cook a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner. The group (12 students plus Donna and Chef Joe Bonaparte) arrived at Bari airport with all the products Texans, including 4 big turkeys, black beans, burritos, corn bleu  several pecan pies , the traditional Texan dessert, and lots of tequila! It was a rainy November day and the flight arrived 4 hours late which caused concern for turkeys thawing!

We were guests in Corato of the Sbisà brothers in their splendid Corte Bracco dei Germani structure, where the two teams of young chefs led by their instructors prepared an unforgettable dinner for over 150 guests, served in the ancient splendid hall of the Court. Later, in 2001, a group of Apulian producers, chef Maggi and some of his students, were invited to Houston and again all together prepared a typical Apulian dinner for over 150 guests in the rooms of the Art Institute! This is how international exchanges based on friendship, culture and above all shared food can make the world better!


Tourism and culture

Texas is a country with its own cultural, as well as historical, traits, mainly due to the stubborn sense of independence of its inhabitants. Few other American states make such frequent use of their flag as the Texans: they are capable of printing it even on their business cards. Texans are known for their generosity and hospitality, as well as the unusual way in which they pronounce English. Conversing with them is generally a pleasant experience as pleasant is a visit to their varied country: in the area of ​​the hills (Hill Country) live Germans who have preserved typical traditions, while going south along the Rio Grande valley we find the typical Mexican folk dancers , and Mariachi bands, these are two examples of the many cultures that meet in this extraordinary country. Given the large territorial extension of the state, a private car is generally necessary to travel the enormous distances that separate one city from another but also to circulate within the large Texan cities. For example, it takes over two hours to get from north to south from Houston, and 3 or 4 hours during rush hour!


The State Cuisines Texan cuisine, with strong and spicy flavors, can easily be assimilated to that of the southern United States, definital soul food, that is a set of experiences ranging from traditional Afro-American cuisine, characterized by fried food served with rice and spicy sauce, to the Cajun cuisine of the French immigrants, up to the Hispanic one, including foods such as chili con carne, spicy beef stew, peppers and beans. Furthermore, Texan cuisine is known above all for the method of cooking the meat called barbecue, which differs from region to region, based on the wood used for cooking. The eastern part of the state, for example, is dedicated to the barbecue with consumption of pork in tomato sauce, or from the barbecue with massive consumption of beef due to the influence of the culture of German immigrants; for Czechs and Mexicans they are sausages and smoked meats, and finally we find the cowboy barbecue, characteristic of the west, which uses mutton in large part

The most popular “barbecue cooking” are essentially two: Grilling and Barbecueing or Smoking (smoking). Grilling is a fast cooking process on very hot embers, while Barbecueing or Smoking is a slow cooking process at low temperature, through hot wood smoke, which makes the meat very tasty and soft, so tender that it simply comes off with the fingers. The best part of the beef is called Brisket or brisket, which can take up to 24 hours to be smoked. Famous is Tex-Mex (a fusion of the words Texan and Mexican) which is a term that describes the fusion of American and Mexican cuisine, deriving from the culinary creations of the Tejanos, inhabitants of Texas of ancient Spanish or Mexican descent. In many parts of the US outside of Texas this term is synonymous with Southwestern cuisine.

Texas' signature national dish is Texas-style barbecue brisket, which is a charcoal-roasted beef breast that leaves it with a smoky flavor.



Ingredients for 15 people: 1 2.5-3 kg piece of veal or beef breast; 140 grams of salt; 100 grams of sugar

Ingredients for rubbing and marinating the meat: 50 grams of sugar; 45 grams of salt; 35 grams of freshly ground pepper

Preparation - Divide the outer fat of the meat with many cuts spaced at least 2 cm from each other. Prepare a brine by dissolving the sugar and salt in a bowl large enough to hold the brisket. Score the fat to allow the brine to penetrate. Refrigerate and let it rest for at least 2 hours. While the brisket rests, soak wood chips or even larger pieces in water. These shavings will be placed on the embers to create smoke during cooking, so carefully choose your favorite wood: the cherry is sweet, the oak very strong, the delicate apple tree, the fragrant olive tree, and the rather bitter chestnut. Remove the brisket from the brine, dry it perfectly and rub it. Let the meat rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour, then put it on the grill with a slow and prolonged cooking.