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March 24, 2014

“Mexican food has suffered an image problem. When people say they want Mexican food they think fajitas, or hard shell tacos, or chile con queso. These ‘Tex Mex’ fast food interpretations discredit a cuisine that has arose from ancient civilizations that pre-date the arrival of the Spaniards.

And that is precisely why we need someone like Pati Jinich, the Latin American policy-researcher-turned-chef who is transforming our view of Mexican cuisine.

Her exploration of her own culinary heritage in Mexico is part of a growing field of public diplomacy – gastrodiplomacy…”

To read the entire article, click here.


March 4, 2014

“You don’t expect a celebrity chef to invite you to her home and serve you ‘piggy cookies.’ (She did. For me!) You don’t expect a celebrity chef to have a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown (she does). In fact, just eight years ago, Pati left her full-time job as a political analyst to pursue her love of Mexican food and the culture of her home country. On her hit show, Pati’s Mexican Table on PBS, you’ll often get a mini-history lesson on a region of Mexico, or the geneses of certain ingredients. She recently wrote an article for The Washington Post about the origins of Tex-Mex food, to which my Mexican American friend from Texas proclaimed should be taught in every school in America…”

To read the entire article, click here.


January 28, 2014

“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.


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