Thursday, February 04, 2016

Something was missing when the Austin chef recreated the gate-fold meal from ZZ Top's Tres Hombres.

It was a big deal for me to purchase ZZ Top's album Tres Hombres back in 1973. I was a 7th grader without liquidity, beer or cash, and the money probably came from putting up hay -- or shameless begging. Rock and roll wasn't popular in my house, but the little ol' band from Texas was seismic in my social circle.

The gate-fold photograph of heaping Tex-Mex platters and regional bric-a-brac is justifiably renowned, and from the vantage point of 2016, it is genuinely impossible to overstate how exotic this food appeared to us in 1973. It made you salivate just looking at it, and there was nothing available locally to compare. Hard shell tacos might have been served in the school cafeteria by then, but that's as far as it went in New Albany, at least until the Tumbleweed restaurant opened.

In January this year, the story of an Austin chef's recreation of the Tres Hombres gate-fold spread went viral, and justifiably so. Tom Micklethwait cooked, filmed and ate the same meal, but there was a difference that seems to have escaped the notice of many.

In the video recreation, Micklethwait's bottle of beer has no label. It isn't Southern Select, because Southern Select no longer exists. As aspiring under-aged beer guzzlers back in 1973, we definitely noticed the brand. Some day, we said, we'd go to Texas and find some. I doubt it ever happened.

For a bit about the history of Southern Select and the involvement of Howard Hughes in Texas brewing lore (yes, THAT Howard Hughes), the Bottlecaps blog has the story: THE BEER SERIES: Part Three | Good times on the Gulf.

The best account I've seen of of Micklethwait's feat is at Texas Monthly, because ZZ Top's guitarist tells the story of the original photo shoot.

An Austin Chef Recreated ZZ Top’s “Tres Hombres” Album ... And Billy Gibbons loves it, by Andy Langer (Texas Monthly)

The shot from the gatefold is the final frame Galen was able to snap. At some point, we took a fifteen-minute break. And when we returned we found his German Shepherd laying on his side gasping for breath. He’d jumped up on the table and consumed the entire lot. He got it all.

The video is there, and also at Rolling Stone.


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