Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
“It is as tense a time as there has ever been between San Antonio and Austin. It is in San Marcos that we must place our hope.”
I write to you from the front lines, with news delicious and despairing.
Forgive me, darling, for not greeting you with warmer correspondence. I should like to fill this letter with words of comfort and inspiration for you and Colt and Major. It warmed my heart to receive your last favor, and were I to respond in kind I would be singing like a bluebird in the round.
Grave events urge me to be direct. With these few minutes I improve upon the opportunity to write, for I believe that what transpires over the next few moons should see Central Texas united once again or utterly torn asunder.
Seven days and seven nights back, Austin mounted a major offensive against San Antonio under Matthew Sedacca. He stirred hearts and stomachs in Austin by claiming breakfast tacos as “the city’s beloved morning dish.” From Tamale House East to Tacodeli to Mi Madre’s, his words still echo. In the chili parlors and icehouses, the people quote him as if he were St. Paul:
Since Tamale House’s inception, the popularity of the breakfast taco and taquerias has enjoyed a meteoric rise throughout Austin. Dozens of taquerias populate the city, catering to both locals and visitors. Transplants to non-Texan cities and some of those in the latter category even brought the dish outside of Texas. Nowadays, you can find this staple in almost any food-minded major metropolitan city.
Some of the men have their doubts about Sedacca. They suspect that he harbors in his heart a secret appetite for the Californian’s burrito. But none could deny that he has pressed his advantage.
As you would expect, my love, this effort has enraged the San Antonians. Joshua Fechter has called out Sedacca as a New Yorker—I am sorry to repeat the slur here—and devised to undermine the Austinite cause. His pamphlet, “10 reasons to hate Austin beyond its breakfast taco arrogance,” has spread along the San Antonio River like bluebonnets in bloom.
“Austin isn't weird, it's indulgent,” Fechter tells his men. If you could only hear them boom in pride like cannons! “Those are two completely different things.”
The San Antonians have even elected to formally petition the government in Austin to take action against “taco negligence” and exile Sedacca. “While unity and fellowship between the many communities of our state is ever the destination, we the people of San Antonio and affiliated communities of South Texas cannot bear endlessly the injuries that are heaped upon our backs by the year,” they protest, rising up in one voice against taco tyranny.
It is as tense a time in Central Texas as there has ever been. Daniel Vaughn has all but claimed Bastrop as the ancestral home of barbecue, another feather in Austin’s cap. I fear that tensions may soon boil over.
My dear, I do not mean to cause you alarm, but the Californians may yet enter the melee. “[N]o city holds more righteous anger toward another than San Antonio has toward Austin,” writes Gustavo Arellano. He is as Western as the sunset, from a place called Orange County. Yet his pamphlet has been spotted along both sides of the conflict. Can these lands endure another fault-line? Will not Central Texas break apart to its very foundation?
Rumors swirl about the Raiders of Oakland. Several of the periodicals say that they are moving to secure a position directly along the front, perhaps in San Marcos. I am sorry to draw their fell name into this letter; I will speak of them no more. Courage, Abigail.
It is in San Marcos that we must place our hope. As the lands between San Antonio and Austin swell with profiteers, carpetbaggers, and entrepreneurs—men drawn to the region by the grim opportunities that war proffers; also, by the delicious breakfast tacos—the no man’s land between the two sides draws shorter and shorter. Perhaps, one day, the two will meet over eggs and chorizo.
I appeal to you for your love and your prayers, but, my sweet, never your fears. Here the men endure the cold well, and in truth, are well fed. Incredibly well fed. Enclosed are a series of calotypes to convey the condition of the camps. Please tender my love to the boys and the dogs and the horses.
Cpl. Kriston Capps