Texas Renaissance Festival

Ligia Giles enjoys her fame as the Empanada Lady of the Texas Renaissance Festival, held weekend each October and November on a rambling site 50 miles northwest of Houston in the little town of Plantersville. While wearing the red and black frills of a fair senorita and surrendering to the theater of it all, the Bolivian-born Ligia manages up to 165 employees and turns out thirty to thiry-five different foods from six buildings.

Ligia's two Spanish food sections, called La Fiesta and El Prado, feature the knockout empanadas she's been making here for twenty-five years, along with terrific pork sandwiches and surprisingly good lamb shanks. Those last are sold as Dragon Shanks, of course.

These foods and more form the food culture of the Texas Renaissance Festival, the nation's largest event referencing the sixteenth century by way of entertainment, costuming, music, and, in a pinch, New Cajun Fried Shrimp. More than 5,000 festival actors sell and serve, sing and dance, and, well, act. The puns are bad and the accents corny. Yet the line between real and fake takes on fresh importance when it comes to food.

Texas Renaissance Festival
21778 FM 1774
Plantersville, Texas 77363
(800) 458-3435

Reprinted from Food Lovers' Guide to Texas  2003, by John DeMers and Rhonda Findley, with permission from The Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, CT

Food Lovers' Guide to Texas

As Texans are fond of reminding folks, they live in a big state with as many climates and ethnic groups and food stuffs as you'll find in most nations. Some will even boast about the state's regional menus and compare their culinary expressions to regions of Italy and France.

"For a state whose culinary ancestry lies in the greasy, smoky mysteries of the cowboy chuckwagon, claiming to have regional cuisines in the manner of Tuscany or Provence is hefty bragging indeed," note authors John DeMers and Rhonda K. Findley, who then provide proof for those boasts in this guide to the state's food producers and purveyors.

Among the food events featured in the book are the Texas Citrus Fiesta in Mission (January), the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest in Houston (February), the Fulton Oysterfest (March), the Noonday Onion Festival in Tyler (June), the Knox City Watermelon Festival (July), Grapefest in Grapevine (September), and the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville (October-November)

Spiced with recipes and recommendations for dining out, Food Lovers' Guide to Texas is a compact compendium of the state's comestibles.

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