It was only natural that Thu and I would become friends. She loves to cook and bake, and I love to eat. She often arrived for a night of page designing with a fresh batch of peanut butter blondies. At one time, I kept a backup jar of peanut butter in my desk drawer in the newsroom.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year telling freshman reporters that working at the Texan for a few semesters will return greater benefits than four years of journalism course work.
But our culinary bond only highlights the greatest value of my Texan experience; not the bullet points on a resume or the internships I’ve held, but the friendships I’ve formed. Many of those relationships have already outlasted my best clips as a reporter.
It seems like a different kind of snack has defined each semester Thu and I have worked together.
While I worked as a senior reporter, and she as a senior designer in fall 2008, I’d take breaks from waiting for calls by heading to my apartment to bake a box of brownies. In fall 2009, we snuck TerraBurger meals into Hole in the Wall after work, and made giant late night bowls of Buitoni pasta on Friday nights.
During a questionable run as a columnist for the life and arts section, she helped me track down nearly every taco truck known to haunt the streets of South and East Austin, and some we had never heard of before — this, despite her vegetarianism. If her willingness to ride along on my hunt for the tastiest beef gordita doesn’t define friendship, I don’t know what does.
I got a relief from the homesickness of a summer in Washington, D.C., when she and Frankie made the 25-hour drive from Austin. Of course, we instantly made a break for Baltimore and the city’s seafood offerings.
Sitting on Federal Hill overlooking the Inner Harbor, eating a hot lunch of crab cakes and fried scallops from Lexington Market was the highlight of my summer.
Although Thu did not return to the Texan this fall, we made a haphazard Friday afternoon tradition of beer and burgers (fries and sweet potatoes for Thu) at Old School Barbecue. We alternately caught up on one another’s weeks and listened to Dan Parrott’s outrageous and hilarious stories of his years in the restaurant industry.
Directing reporters and editing stories gave me a kick for two semesters as an editor — and quite a few headaches. But a few years from now, I think I’ll remember all of the meals we shared — the late night taco runs or gooey blondies — more vividly than the most rewarding stories.
Andrew Kreighbaum worked as a general reporter, senior reporter and life and arts writer, as well as enterprise editor and news editor at the Texan.