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Pati Jinich

“It was 1997, and I was excited. A year after moving to Dallas from Mexico City, where I was born and raised, I would finally have the chance to get what Tex-Mex cooking was all about. I was visiting San Antonio, the capital of Tex-Mex, at one of its most famous Tex-Mex restaurants. And then the food came.

The large, oval combo platter in front of me was supposed to be cheese enchiladas with red rice and refried beans, but all I could see was a thick blanket of cream-colored sauce with melted, yellow processed cheese on top, threatening to spill over the plate and possibly even out of the restaurant. I couldn’t tell whether the tortillas were corn or flour, and they were barely filled; the mealy red rice had a watered-down tomato taste and an overdose of cumin; the refried beans were runny and — oh, heresy! — there weren’t enough of them to eat along with each bite. I was hungry, and curious, so I ate it all. In a strange way, it was comforting, but I was perplexed. After I finished, I told the Mexican waiter: No entiendo lo que me acabo de comer. I don’t get what I just ate.

I still think about that meal because it is emblematic of the problems people have with Tex-Mex. Mexican food purists take swipes at it, claiming it is simply bad Americanized Mexican food, while Texans rush to defend it as its own breed…”

To read the entire article, click here.


Comments

The program on Sunday, February 9, 2014 had demonstrations of Americanized dishes, but I was unable to find the recipes.


Hola Pati,
I like your approach to food very much. You, as I, love food; Not ONLY what we grew up with and will always love, but to explore, with equal homage, all that we like that this little world has to offer. I suspect that you and I share a curiosity of history and variety.
Regarding your observation about TEX MEX, It’s my impression that immigrants from around the world brought their “GOOD” memories of their ancestry to the American table. They came here to “ESCAPE” whatever troubled them from where they came. Then, with each generation, their fading memories, and the welcomed abundance of food value in America, PLUS a desire to assimilate (take advantage of) the predominantly Anglo structure of America, led them to morph ingredients in their cuisine into NEW types.
Someone from Spain might find FRESH chorizo odd… but good? For hundreds of generations and around the world morphing of styles and ingredients have occurred; No different than between Mexican and Texan. I enjoy, equally, all that I like from both.
I’m from New England. Distant from TEX/MEX country. I sense, right or wrong, that Mexican/U.S. border tension exacerbates frustrations felt by Mexicans and Texans making it more important to lay claim to, or to have a sense of “What is ours” on both sides; To include cuisine.
My wife and I both have friendly acquaintance with Vietnamese immigrants as well as my own amicable acquaintance with a few people from Malaysia. Wifey and I have, very much, enjoyed authentic Vietnamese and Malaysian plates as guests. But Wifey and I find it curious that our hosts have zero interest in New England cuisine? And after thinking about it, I’ll share with you how that makes me feel; It makes me feel that I am third generation American; MORE American than our lovely hosts. We don’t have one foot in one land and the other foot “Back home”. Hopefully, our host’s children and grand children will assimilate what I think of as a “Universal palate”. A cosmopolitan American “Not Mexican” embrace of morphed cuisine. Or at least what it is that they each “like” in it. This will, likely, be the case with your own three boys; They may “Get what they’re eating, wherever the are”. That, to me, is the American palate.
I’ll continue to enjoy your work!
Via con Dios
Jimmy V
P.S. It’s my wife’s E-mail address! I’m not maricone.

Thank you Jimmy, for your lovely email. Thanks for taking the time, I really value your thoughts on this. Gracias!



Hi Pati,

I am one of those rare Latinos, whose families (both parents) were here on this side of the border prior to the Mexican-American War. So if I can fill in part of the history of the what is was like for those people, who suddenly became Americans. One of the problems for my ancestors and others was that much of their culture was taken from them. They were ostracized, lands were taken from them, they weren’t hired for good jobs, and were unable to move up in society.
So our food became comfort food, it was inexpensive, and it was made to fill our bellies. The nutrition aspect of it was lost as many people were only able to eat rice and beans. How else could you feed a large family on a worker’s wages. You will find many restaurants still serve that kind of fare because it is still inexpensive and filling.
You and Rick Bayless have exposed American audiences to ‘true’ Mexican Cuisine. And you should be congratulated for that. However, for the vast majority of people in this country, Mexican food will always be about the level of quality found at fast food places. As long as you keep trying to educate people, then at least you are doing your part to make all of us better people.
Saludos,
Xavier

Hola Xavier, Thank you so much for your message, and for sharing!



Can Nana Josie’s chocolate cake be frozen and used later?

Yes, it may.




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