The evolution of North Mexican cuisine in Texas is the cocktail of Texas and Mexican style giving birth to Tex Mex food, which is a highly spiced and vibrantly styled cuisine. History points out that Tex Mex food dates back to 1940’s when Spanish and Mexican recipes combined with Anglo fare. Today it is a 20th Century phenomenon for Americans. The first Tex Mex restaurant surfaced in the southwest region, which had a dense Mexican population. The gourmet Tex Mex began in 1970’s and appealed to the young generation. Diana Kennedy brought this common food to a trendy fare in her book Cuisines of Mexico in 1972. Robb Walsh has also commented in The Tex Mex Cookbook.
Tex Mex Cuisine
Main characteristic of Tex Mex food is heavy use of meat, especially beef, beans and spices. Some inventions are nachos, crispy tacos, crispy chalupas, chilli con queso, chilli con carne, chilly gravy and fajitas. Serving tortilla chips, hot sauce or salsa is an appetizer in original Tex Mex style. Along with these Mexican dishes some Texas specialty like ribs and chili are served in Texas restaurants.
What is Tex Mex?
It may be described as native foreign food, ‘native’ because it does not exist elsewhere. To distinguish between Tex Mex and Mexican food we can only say that Mexican food has more variety and is regional but the whole of U.S. is following this form and style of Tex Mex food, an amalgamation of Northern Mexico peasant food with Texas and cowboy fare.
In olden days, Texans went to Mexican restaurants and ate where the mixed plate was served. The Americanized Mexican food came to be known as Tex Mex, which stood as an insult to Texas Mexican restaurant owners. The insult launched the success story. It evoked images of cantinas, cowboys and Wild West. Dozens of Tex Mex restaurants sprang up in Paris, spread to Europe and to Bangkok, Buenos Aries and Abu Dhabi. Tortilla chips, margaritas and chili con carne are world famous.
Tex Mex is a combo of American Indian and Spanish cuisines and cultural differences of Mexican American in South and West Texas. Corn is widely used in American Indian cuisine in the form of Corn tortillas, which are usually bought from stores these days. Many make flour tortillas, which are easier to cook. It is the basis of many popular dishes – enchiladas, tacos, chilaquiles, chalupas, quesadillas, tostadas, botanas and many more. Strangely. most Texas – Mexican dishes and equipment acquire names from Aztec language.
Another staple eaten daily is frijoles or beans of various kinds – kidney beans, tepary beans, black beans, pinto beans etc. They may be served combined with other food like ‘frijoles con chorizo’ and ‘frijoles con quielites’ to name a few.
Numerous dishes are prepared from meats. Traditional ones are from pork called ‘chicharrones’. Preparation from goats is known as ‘cabrito’ and ‘machitos’, while dishes prepared from cattle include fajitas. Another traditional dish of west Texas is ‘morcilla’ made from pig blood. Various soups and pickled meat dish are common.
Although traditional food reveals strong cultural ties between Mexican American in West and South Texas, they also showed cultural difference. Fajitas are common folk cuisine in South Texas but not in West Texas. Mexicans in South Texas like ‘tripitas’ though it is not popular in West Texas. Morcilla is common in West but not in South Texas.
In spite of these differences in folk levels Tex Mex food is popular all over the world.