“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion.”
— John Steinbeck
Texans are many things: independent, tough, proud, and, above all, loyal. How many others can say they know their state bird, reptile, tree, and flower just off the top of their head? (FYI, it is the mockingbird, the horned frog, the pecan tree, and the bluebonnet).
We Texans love our local institutions, food, and culture, and for many of us, this can all be found in one glorious place: H-E-B. As a military spouse living outside of the “motherland,” I often long for a way to get my favorite products and a little slice of home.
Now, there are grocery stores and there are grocery stores. H-E-B is definitely the latter. It’s an experience in all things Texas cuisine. You can get fresh, local (and affordable!) produce, seafood straight from the Gulf of Mexico, and tortillas made from scratch in-house.
There is also H-E-B Plus that carries everything from food to clothes to furniture. Central Market is the H-E-B answer to Whole Foods with gourmet options, large varieties of premade food, a coffee bar, an extensive wine selection, and even cooking classes. I was lucky enough to grow up with an H-E-B nearby.
When my husband began pilot training and we moved out of the HE-Bubble, I remember having culture shock.
Why was watermelon so expensive?
Also why was it so bad?
Why was the salsa made in New York City?
I’m sorry, but what is this slop you call BBQ sauce?
Above all, why did I have to buy prepackaged tortillas to make my enchiladas?! Surely, there had to be a better way!
Holidays make me so nostalgic for the familiar. I remember feeling really and truly homesick on Thanksgiving the first time we were stationed overseas. We had just moved and were living in a temporary apartment until our house was ready. We had none of our furniture and obviously none of our family nearby. What I would have given to be able to order a few things online to remind me of home and family.
Now I can.
As I have often said, I was made for such a time as this. We now live in a world where you can get some of your favorite H-E-B items in the mail!
Through the H-E-B website, you can order many of your Texas favorites with just a few mouse clicks and have them in your mailbox within a few days.
They ship to 49 states and APO (overseas mailboxes) addresses!
I can’t imagine how happy I would have felt if I had been able to order some of my favorite H-E-B products like the Texas stemless wine glasses to my APO address on that first Thanksgiving when we were stationed overseas.
Having hamburgers in the UK? You can get Whataburger ketchup!
Having your neighbors over for fajitas in Japan? Introduce them to the wonder that is queso dip or That Green Sauce!
Even if you are stationed in Italy and can have a delicious espresso every day, there is something to be said with starting your morning off with a cup of Café Ole Texas Pecan coffee.
Food is tied to memory. We associate it with family and friends and special occasions. For many of us living far from where we come from, something as small as salsa or a bag of coffee can bring us home. So if you are a displaced Texan, an adopted Texan, or just Texan in spirit, get yourself to a computer and get busy.
The H-E-B website makes it easy for you with a Totally Texas section. Enjoy your goodies, your stomach will thank you.
Oh, and don’t forget to get some Texas-shaped tortilla chips to go with all those salsas. Can we say Christmas list?