March 3, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

In Texas GOP 'Family,' Food Is the Tie That Binds

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Barbeque from restaurants like Capital Q Texas BBQ, 707 H Street NW, is a frequent feature of the Texas delegations lunch menus.

Barton, in his defense, said all he knew was there wasnt any Popeyes left at the end of the lunch. Whatever flak I took it wasnt from lack of interest in eating the food, he said.

The razzing seem to be just as much a part of the lunch as the food itself. We sometimes poke fun at each other, I mean it is, after all for lack of a better term a pretty tight fraternity, Weber said, though he noted that the members give a lot of deference to the only female Texas Republican, Kay Granger.

Shes such a classy lady, Weber said.

But that doesnt mean Granger is toning down the caloric value when its her turn to buy lunch.

I dont think anybody, even Kay Granger, provides what would be called truly health food, Barton said.

Notwithstanding Bartons Popeyes, whether its Hill Country or Tortilla Coast or the ribs Louie Gohmert used to make before the Architect of the Capitol shut down his balcony barbecue operation the food is generally steeped in saturated fats. It is, according to Barton, all the stuff youre not supposed to eat.

And members love it. They try to outdo each other in what they provide, like when Steve Stockman went the extra mile by supplying burgers and We, the Pizza just because.

But the real way to outdo your colleagues, members said, was to out-Texas them, hence why Hill Country is such a popular choice.

The Penn Quarter-based barbecue joint takes care to make the dining experience as Texas possible. Beyond the Shiner beer on tap and the Gruene, Texas, neon signs, Hill Country ships in its meat and the Post Oak wood used to smoke that meat from Texas, and ships the chefs out to Texas.

According to McCaul, the member who claims he first brought the Hill Country for lunch, its probably the closest thing we have to Texas barbecue up here, meaning itll do the job, but is still, perhaps, not Texas enough.

If any restaurant can make their process more Texas, theyd probably find a spike in the delivery business on Thursday afternoons.

As Weber put it, seeming to sum up the lunch preferences of many Lone Star Republicans, I like anything thats from Texas.

And to top off the Texas Republicans meal, they have a Texas dessert: Blue Bell ice cream, shipped in from Brenham. I dont know that there are any abstainers in the Blue Bell, Barton said.

Barton first brought the Blue Bell more than 20 years ago, but it wasnt until John Culberson forgot to bring lunch one day as a freshman in 2001 that the Blue Bell became a staple.

My atonement was I would always have Blue Bell ice cream there, Culberson said, who noted that the duty had been passed on to more junior members since.

Blue Bells motto screams Texas: We eat all we can and sell the rest. And if you ask Texas Republican Ted Poe, it ought to be the motto of Americas foreign energy policy. (He recently said as much on the House floor.)

But thats pretty much the most direct line you can draw from the lunch to policy.

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