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Akst: Don’t choke on the whole enchilada

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: my first job in the Midwest. During the interview, we had lunch at Lone Star Steakhouse, chosen so I would feel at home because I was then living in Austin, Texas.

I saw “Amarillo Cheese Fries” on the menu. I didn’t know what they were, which is noteworthy because I was born 60 miles from Amarillo, lived there as a young adult, and still have family and friends there.

Texans know Texas is larger than life. That knowledge comes from being born there (the only way, some say, one can be a real Texan). What I never realized was the degree to which non-Texas entities would want to market Texana.

So I was amused to read last week that Texas Roadhouse is going to open in the former Johnny’s Charhouse location.

That’s no small … armadillo. The steakhouse chain – headquartered in Kentucky – has more than 400 locations in 48 states, with 12 Illinois locations.

I wish Texas Roadhouse success. As a carnivore, I’m sure I’ll dine there occasionally (can’t wait to try the “Road Kill”), but I wonder if we really need another meat-centric eatery.

Anyway, as a public service, I thought it might be helpful to mention some stuff about Texas and Texans. There won’t be a test later.

Lone Star beer is swill. Shiner Bock, on the other hand, is nectar of the gods. Brewed just outside Austin, it’s only been available in the Midwest for a few years. Drink it cold with a slice of lemon.

Rattlesnake doesn’t taste like chicken. It tastes like rattlesnake.

It’s “y’all,” not “ya’ll.”

This is a family newspaper, but if you follow me on Twitter (@jasonakst), I’ll explain the difference between a fairy tale and a Texas tale.

The stereotype about Texans and guns is not a stereotype. Growing up, we were chided because we *only* had 5 or 6 guns around our house. When my brother’s high school class performed “Annie Get Your Gun,” as a chorus member, he wore a western-style pistol and holster. It was real (but not loaded). Nobody cared.

Also …

I had a roommate in college who sometimes carried a loaded .45 automatic. That’s a serious weapon. I asked him why he carried it. “In case I meet somebody who needs killin!’ ” he said.

Not everybody owns livestock or lives on a ranch. Texas is a very urban state. However, I have seen people on horseback at the Sonic drive-in.

Bruce Springsteen wasn’t riffing: There really is a Cadillac Ranch. It’s beside a stretch of highway just outside Amarillo. It’s kind-of cool. The guy who helped finance it can most charitably be called eccentric and is currently being sued for molestation and sexual abuse of a teenager.

No matter what brand or flavor, a carbonated soft drink is a “Coke.”

“Right quick” means you’re doing something immediately or speedily, e.g., “I’m just going to make this guacamole right quick, and then supper will be ready.”

The Texas panhandle (the part of the state the cowboy hat in Texas Roadhouse’s logo covers) is closer to several other state capitals than its own, and gets about as much love from those other capitals as its own.

There’s no such thing as “country fried sirloin.” It’s “chicken fried steak.”

Texans and Illinoisans have one important thing in common: The people who run their states.

’Nuff said?

• Jason Akst teaches journalism and public relations at Northern Illinois University. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter (@jasonakst).

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