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307 West 5th Stree Austin, Texas 477-1137 women demanded “the addition of such things as Manhattan cocktails, fruit cups, and fancy salads to the traditional menu of slices of ripened steaks, double lamb chops, kidneys, and beer by the pitcher.” He attempts to reconstruct the old-school beefsteaks, where men ate steak with their hands, drank beer, sang songs, and wiped their hands on their aprons. Mitchell stands in the kitchen or roams among the diners, evidently not eating the whole time, because his story imparts his own growing meat hunger: “Each waiter had a couple of “AMERICA TYPIFIES THE TRIUMPH OF THE COMMON PEOPLE IN THEIR HISTORICAL DRIVE FOR ANIMAL PROTEIN, AND TEXAS IS, IN THIS RESPECT, THE CAPITAL OF AMERICA.” the cardboard platters on which bread had been arranged. As he went by the table, he held out the platters and the chef dropped a slice of the rare, dripping steak on each piece of bread. Then the waiter hurried off.” One other thing about barbecue: the best barbecue is, by definition, in a place too far to drive for dinner. I think the best barbecue is from Raul’s, a little place situated at the northern end of the small West Texas town of Fort Davis, seven hours away from Austin. I manage to eat there once a year. Everyone in West Texas seems to cook their own barbecue; some late Saturday afternoon if you drive around Fort Davis or Alpine, a town twenty-five miles south, you will see a smoker fired up on every driveway. It is also true that you will find the best barbecue where everyone barbecues at home in order to stay open, he has got to be good. Raul is a jovial, older Mexican man with a bald head and big round eyes. At his place, the pit and the eating area are separated by a thick wall, and Raul stands on the pit side and takes your order through an opening the size of an ice cream truck window. It is so hot on his side of the window When Raul takes your order, his face is often streaming with sweat and his voice slightly cracked so that you wonder what penance he has taken upon himself. If he doesn’t take your order, his wife can do it, though you will have to speak Spanish to her. She will bring out your meal to the little room with three picnic tables crammed against the wall, and on the television there is either a Univision telenovela or a baseball game. Sometimes she will sit and watch TV as if she’s in her own living room, and maybe she is. She also looks reluctant to return to the other side of the window. On Sundays, families in church clothes crowd into Raul’s. It’s another capital of the capital of America, where Raul’ s version of triumph is to serve only one item, which you also eat with your fingers. It is a brisket sandwich, and though it comes in three sizes, it counts for one item. The meat is moist and rich, never salty, and the sandwich a good-size portion of it. It’s never tough, so you bite through it and never drag away half the sandwich’s insides. You can also order hot sauce on your sandwich which Raul will tell you he makes himself and is very hot, and it is, and it is also very good: crushed jalapeilos and salt and vinegar. A sandwich arrives on a paper plate with pickle, and you can also buy Lay’s potato chips. At Kreuz’s, your meal resembles carnage in front of you when you’re done, but at Raul’s, you get a halo of thick white paper. On the wall hangs a sign, “Saturday=ribs,” but Raul has trancended ribs. Michael Erard is glad for the end of Lent, so that everyone can go back to eating whatever they want. This article is partially funded through a grant from the Austin Writers’ League, in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. Mathis and Company Certified Public Accountants Tax Work, Litigation Support and Other Analyses Austin, Texas mrun.crthismsn.corn “Ivins,” from page 20 six months would be a good record. As with the original spy scare over who gave Russia “atomic secrets,” there really aren’t any secrets; the laws of physics are not secret. The question is what resources a nation is able and willing to put into weapons development. There is no “lax security” at Los Alamos. Foreign scientists are not wandering around the weapons research complex; it happens to be surrounded by tall fences topped with razor wire, with guards all along it and palm readers at the gates to ID workers. And Mr. Safire yes, e-mail at Los Alamos Labs is monitored; you’ll be happy to know that instances of both pornography and on-line gambling have been uncovered by our vigilant security forces. Molly lvins is a former Observer editor and a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Her latest book is You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You. You may write to her via e-mail at mollyivins @ star-telegram. corn. ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 5 1 2-453-1 533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip APRIL 16, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31 no*