Hugo's and the Gay Pride Parade, Again
For the second year in a row, my wife, 74-year old mother, and 9-year old daughter went to Hugo's on the night of the Gay Pride Parade.
Once again, Mayor Bill White ate at Hugo's before the parade. Once again, he left early to lead the parade.
Once again, my daughter left with several pounds of mardi gras beads.
This year, it struck me how conservative the parade has become. Apart from a few men in underwear, most of the parade is dominated by floats or cars advertising politicians, corporations (Chase, BP, Chevron), and at least 6 or 7 churches.
My family loved the parade. But for me the real excitement was on Hugo's menu.
Eating some bugs
Hugo's is serving grasshoppers:
This appetizer, called chapulines, consists of a bowl of pan-sauteed grasshoppers with chipolte salsa, guacamole, and blue tortillas.
I have had grasshoppers before, but under different circumstances.
At boy scout camp in Central Texas. I signed up for the Wilderness Survival merit badge. We had to spend a night in the wild without equipment and forage for food. The only thing we found to eat were grasshoppers.
I cooked a few grasshoppers on a fire that started without matches. Without spices, the grasshoppers had a grassy, vegetal taste and a crunchy texture.
The grasshoppers served at Hugo's are not pretty. It is hard to escape the fact that they really do look like bugs: But Hugo's grasshoppers are much better than the ones I cooked at camp. They are thoroughly spiced and served with some sauteed onions and cilantro. I did not detect any of the grassy flavor of the grasshoppers of my childhood.
Still, the texture of the crunchy exoskeletons may be hard for some people to take. Fortunately for the squeamish, Hugo's serves enough guacamole and salsa that you can wrap everything in a tortilla and almost forget you are eating bugs.
Some people will order this dish because they have been watching too much Andrew Zimmern. I confess that I have some of the same food machismo.
But the value of this dish goes beyond its exotica. Hugo's grasshoppers taste very good.
Squash blossoms are in season. So Hugo's kitchen is serving its annual squash blossom menu, including stuffed squash blossoms:
My favorite dish at Hugo's is a simple one -- Callo de Hacha, pan seared scallops served over sweet corn bread:
Houston is lucky to have Mexican food as creative and as good as Hugo's.