9/24/2013

Yes, I Moved Back to Texas for Tex Mex

Tex-Mex is the national cuisine of Texas. (Some would argue barbeque or chicken fried steak....more on those, later. Combined, these three items are considered the "trifecta" of Texas cuisine.) Tex Mex is entirely diffferent from California Mex, New Mexico Mex, or Mexican Mex. Real Tex-Mex is preferably eaten in a run down mom-and-pop local restaurant in the barrio that makes Anglos feel tantilizingly sketchy just to go there. Chain restaurants will do if you are desperate (such as visiting another state and need a quick fix) or if the chain started as a local family owned business and grew. Tex-Mex is beef-centric, corn-based, and uses a wide variety of spicy peppers(jalapeno, serrano, hatch,red, chili,etc) liberally. The traditional Tex-Mex meal involves enchiladas (always made of corn tortillas, filled with cheese or meat, topped with sauce and cheese, rolled and baked. An enchilada is cheezy and soft and melts in your mouth. You eat it with a fork.), hand foods such as crispy tacos (the semi-circle above, a fried crispy corn tortilla, filled with spicy meat and lettuce, tomato, cheese), tostadas or chalupas (fried flat corn tortilla, layered in refried beans, lettuce, tomato, and hot sauce), rice and beans. You drink iced tea or margaritas with this meal.

There are many other menu items in the traditional Tex-Mex menu, such as burritos (large flour tortilla filled with beans and meat, rolled, eaten with fingers dry), fajitas and street tacos (soft flour or corn tortillas filled with spiced grilled or shredded beef, chicken, or pork, sauted onions, jalepenos, peppers, cilantro, tomatoes), chalupas (a narrow rolled corn tortilla, filled with a small amount of spiced beef and fried. It is about the size of a large cigar.), guacamole (mashed up avacado with hot sauce or tomatoes mixed in), queso (cheese dip- melted cheese and spices, you dip tortilla chips into this), nachos (take the tortilla chips, spread them out onb a plate, layer with beans, cheese, jalepenos, and bake till gooey. Dip in salsa when finished.), quesodillas (2 flour tortillas filled with cheese and /or meat, pan sauted, like a grilled cheese sandwhich) and salsa (see my post on that topic).

Much conversational time and energy among Texans is spent arguing which Tex-Mex restaurant is better, and why. It is not uncommon for natives who have moved away, say to New York or Paris, schedule frequent vacations home just so they can eat the local cuisine. Or move back altogether, for the food.

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