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In this episode, two old souls meet in the Texas Gulf Coast to discover what the land (and water) has on offer. JT Van Zandt shows Eduardo how fishing for redfish on the fly is done. In turn, Eduardo reveals that within the very terrain that might bite, burn or sting you, you can find enough vegetation to fill your apron. Thumbnail photo by Paul Collins

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Transcript

- [Eduardo] My name is Eduardo Garcia. I'm a professional chef, avid hunter, fisherman, and wild foods forager. A few years ago, I nearly lost my life doing what I love. Since then, I've doubled down on my mission: to make food an integral part of every adventure. This is my Hungry Life. - [Eduardo] You wake up to this? - [JT] I'm sure that they're tailin' in there right now, as calm as it is. - [Eduardo] I actually met JT at a fishing conference over in Florida. We got jammin' and talkin', and it's clear right away we were cut from the same cloth. We have old souls that have definitely hung out and spent time together. You know, JT, he tells me, he says, "Hey man, "we should go fly fish down to a special place "called Laguna Madre. "Wake up early, and I'm gonna fish for tailing redfish, "and at night, we're fishin' for black drum "and speckled sea trout." And JT loves to attack you with a fly. And that's right up my alley. - [JT] It's just in a place where it feels like it could have been 1,000 years ago. You know, it's just that beautiful and that vast. And it's an effort gettin' there. Conditions have to line up. - [Eduardo] I'm thinkin, "I'm in, let's do this." But as we're cruising, it wasn't just offered to you. The fish weren't sitting there like goldfish in a bowl. You would see a fish totally calm, totally unaware of our existence, and I would get ready to make my cast, and my floating line would tap the varnished hull of the boat. It knew somethin' was off, and just start tailing away. - [JT] Guiding, it's sort of a fallout career in a really good way. Most folks try to simulate into society, but if you're gonna be beatin' your head against the wall, then it makes a lot of sense to fall out into somethin' that's at least gonna be meaningful to you along the way. Texas has just this unlimited ability to get away and feel free that definitely makes me happy to have a history here and a lot of learning in this particular location where I can say, okay, I spent a lotta time here understanding and knowing this place, and I'm gonna provide you with safety and success. Make a good cast dancing past your nose with the rod tip, and stay tight, then you can poke 'em and just let go, let 'em run. Look to the left of that tail. Nice. Strip. Lift the rod, lift it, lift it. You got 'im. Nice! Let it go, let it go. He's on, baby. - [Eduardo] Look at that. Dang. Beautiful, huh? Look at that right there. So amazing. Give 'im a kiss an' let 'im go. - [JT] I think he's ready to go. See ya! The foraging aspect of what Ed's doin' really takes it to another level. There's a discipline there in not bringin' down some greens that got shipped here from the valley or from California, where you bring 'em in a plastic bag, and that's your side. To finish fishing and be tired, but take a hike in an extremely hostile environment with rattlesnakes and who knows what else that could bite, burn, or sting ya, ya know? I'm stompin' over that stuff all the time. Maybe I'll try to stop and fill my apron with it next time. - [Eduardo] The second the sun went down and it was dark enough to turn on a light, we turned the dock lights on, and the lights started tracking these shrimp, and those were the flies we were using throughout the day. We're usin' these little shrimp-pattern flies. And the shrimp, of course, are food for bigger predators, and so then, outta the darkness, you get schools upon schools, I'm talkin' hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of speckled sea trout. Look at this pile of trout, man. - [JT] There's probably no better representation of a particular area than the food that you would have in that region. - [Eduardo] Oh, look at that donkey. That's a queen oyster right there, man. You know, Antonio, the fisherman, he said that sometimes they find pearls with these guys. - [JT] I know a guy who gave his girlfriend one. Let's take 'em to the grill, huh? - [Eduardo] I've never grabbed a heavy-ass bag of oysters like this before, but it feels really good. - [JT] Yeah, it does. - [Eduardo] So you think boiling these suckers? - [JT] Let's steam 'em in beer. - [Eduardo] Steam 'em. And then we'll pull some of the meat out, maybe throw 'em in an empanada? - [JT] Yeah. - [Eduardo] JT, when you do heat, how high do you usually go? - [JT] All the way. - [Eduardo] And we had a whole sea trout laid out on the coals just grilling whole. Let's squeeze half in here and grill the other halfer on top of that pitch, right? I think when I was 21, that was the last time I made a menu before arriving to a location, you know, because you can pre-think about what you would like to eat, but the bottom line is, is that the best meal you're gonna have is what's unoffered. We had grilled the cactus paddles, and we cut 'em up into pieces and filled them, put 'em inside empanadas, or put 'em inside a fresh corn masa, and folded those like turnovers. You know, an empanada in Mexico is a sort of a Mexican version of a turnover. It's way hot. - Mm. So good. It's just this side of intolerable. - [Eduardo] You know, one of the really choice, choice, choice bites that we had that night was we took really beautifully thin-sliced filets of the speckled sea trout and we laid those inside a lemon leaf. - [JT] So pretty, I love it. - [Eduardo] And then we closed the lemon leaf. - [JT] Kill doesn't entirely make sense 'til you get into this. - [Eduardo] Little packages of trout grilled in a lemon leaf. One of the most delectable bites you could ever imagine. - Oh, man. - [Eduardo] One of the absolutely priceless parts of a meal is the ability it has to bring people together.