Tex Styles learned the art of grilling at a young age. His father, an expert, medal-winning griller, and smoker, proudly and meticulously teaches six-year-old Tex the art of cooking everything from burgers to ribs on his cast-iron Leonard Brothers charcoal grill. The family lineage of grilling over an open flame can be traced back to the British Isles and their ancestral home of Scotland, where a Styles family member cooked meat for Celtic warriors, the King of England, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
When Tex turns eleven, his father conducts a tiki-torch-lighted ceremony in their backyard and passes the sacred grilling tools to his only child. Father Frank, the local priest, attends the party and lays down a righteous blessing on the tools, Tex, and the family grill.
When young Tex fires up the charcoal on summer evenings, the neighborhood gathers in his backyard to watch the boy genius at work.
Once he has entered his Zen-cooking zone, he serves up a better T-bone than Cattlemen’s, and his burgers are known to bring tears to a grown man’s eyes. Around Fort Worth, the word is out that some little kid over on Ryan Ave is a “grilling Jesse.”
Tex receives a bright green Weber grill for his thirteenth birthday and a professional cooking apron with his name embroidered across the front. The Star-Telegram newspaper takes his picture and writes a glowing article that appears in the Sunday food section. Over on Channel 5, Bobbie Wygant mentions him on her television show and sends him a congratulations card. He is now a local celebrity. Dan Jenkins, the hot-shot sports writer at the Telegram, does a piece on Tex for Sports Illustrated, and just like that, young Tex is officially a “big deal.”
When Tex turns sixteen, like his father and grandfather, he is inducted into the “Sons Of The Alamo” Masonic Lodge. To become a member, your family tree must include one direct family member who fought and died at the Alamo. Tex’s great-great-great-grandfather was a defender and was killed in the siege. He was also the head cook and griller for the Texian Army and a rowdy drinking buddy of Jim Bowie and Colonel Travis.
New members must speak before the lodge elders, recounting the siege from their family’s point of history. Since childhood, Tex had heard this family story a hundred times and can repeat it word for word, but tonight, he is drawing a blank on some critical details and decides to wing it a bit. In the mind of a sixteen-year-old, his modernized recount of the battle makes perfect sense.
He stands in front of the assembled elders, leans into the microphone, and begins;
“In late 1835, my great-great-great-grandfather, Angus Styles, traveled from the Smokey mountains of Tennessee to the dangerous plains of Texas with David Crockett and his band of long-rifle toting buckskin-clad rabble-rousers. Angus was in the dog house with his wife most of the time, so he figured a year or two in the wilds of Texas would smooth everything out with the Mrs.
Before immigrating to America, Angus was the chief griller and top dog chef for the Duke and Duchess of Edinburg over in Europe. David Crockett knew Angus was a master griller and wanted him to travel with his men so they would eat well. Crockett and the men killed the meat, and Angus grilled it to perfection.
Arriving in Texas, Crockett tells Angus they making a stop-over for a few days at a place called the Alamo mission. A buddy needs some help to fight off a few Mexican soldiers; it shouldn’t take more than two days, tops.
Once at the Alamo, Angus realizes Crockett was wrong in his evaluation. The rag-tag Army behind the walls would be no match for the thousands of Mexican soldiers sitting on a riverbank a few hundred yards away, eating tortilla wraps and polishing their long bayonets. Mariachi music floating on the breeze gave the scene a weird party-like atmosphere.
Angus locates and converts an old adobe oven to a smoker griller, working on some chow for the Texians. Brisket, ribs, and sausage, along with his secret sauce, will be on the supper menu.
A young pioneer woman from the northern part of Texas is there with her father, a volunteer. Veronica Baird is busy baking bread and cinnamon rolls in another adobe oven and lends Angus a hand stoking his fire. A big German fellow, Gustav Shiner, wanders over and offers Angus a mug of his homebrew beer. It’s looking like the Army will eat and drink well tonight.
A chilly March wind is blowing toward the Mexican Army camp, and the troops smell the delightful aroma of cooking meat and baking bread. Having marched 1500 miles with little food, they are famished, and the wafting perfume makes them salivate like an old hound dog.
General Santa Anna and his officers are also smelling the same heavenly aroma and, having not much to eat in the past few days, scheme to get their hands on that meat and bread. Santa Anna sends a white flag rider with a note to the gates of the Alamo.
Standing in the courtyard, surrounded by hundred-plus fighters, Travis reads the letter, ” Dear Sirs and Scurrilous Rebels, on behalf of our large and overpowering Mexican Army and of course, myself, General Santa Anna, we would be willing to offer you a general surrender of sorts if you would share your delicious meat and bread with my troops. Looking forward to a good meal. Yours until death, General Santa Anna.”
The men, in unison, yell, “hell no,” we are not sharing our chow. Being a bit of a smart-ass, Travis then orders two 20-pound cannons to fire a rebuke into the Mexican camp.
The first cannonball destroys the Mexican’s chuck wagon and what beans and flour the troops have left. The second cannonball blows up the cantina wagon, vaporizing numerous cases of tequila and wine. Now the officers and troops have no food and no hooch. Santa Anna is as mad as a rabid raccoon and screams, “that’s it boys, we are taking the mission pronto.”
The battle started that evening, and as we all know, it didn’t turn out well for the Texians. Veronica Baird survived the massacre and said that Angus Styles and Gustav Shiner fought off the advancing soldiers with carving knives, a keg tap, and her sizeable wooden baker’s Peel. They fought to their death.
As the women and children of the Alamo were escorted out of the mission, Veronica Baird spots Santa Anna, sitting on his black horse, about to take a bite from one of her Cinnamon rolls. She chunks a rock and knocks it out of his hand. General Santa Anna’s Great Dane dog gobbles it down before it hits the ground. Sweet revenge.
She later wrote a book about the battle, and it sold pretty well here in Texas. Not only is the Alamo our sacred national treasure, but it was also the first BBQ joint in our state of Texas. Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed the story of my grandfather Angus dying at the Alamo.” And with that, Tex steps down and takes a seat next to his stunned father.
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