Mexican Recipes

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Mexican (TexMex) Recipes

Thom's Recipe File

When we Americans say Mexican foods we are probably talking about Tex-Mex foods.  Some of us don't even grasp the difference.  Both are very spicy and rich in flavor.  But beware that Mexican food is not Tex-Mex food; fajitas and nachos are not part of it.  From the traditional "cabrito" of Monterrey to "mucbilpollo" and "panuchos" in Yucatan, from "Huachinango a la Veracruzana" in the Gulf of Mexico to "pozole" in west, from "mole" and "chiles en nogada" in Puebla to "tasajo" and "cecina" in Oaxaca Tamales Picturethere is a world to be discovered, a fascinating experience to the senses that awaits anybody who enjoys eating.  You should note, however, that traditional Mexican cuisine is likely to be quite different than expected by non-natives, and varies vastly from region to region in Mexico.  Some areas prepare dishes that many might consider quite bland, yet others make avid use of spices and hot chile peppers.  The earliest Mexican agricultural staples were beans, squash and chile peppers, with maize/corn arriving some 2,000 years later.  Their diet expanded to include avocados, coconuts, papayas, pineapples, prickly pears, tomatoes, manioc, sweet potatoes, peanuts, amaranth, chia seeds, and more varieties of beans.  The herb of choice was usually epazote, similar to cilantro in its strong, pungent flavor, which also has carminative gas-reducing powers.  Early meats included turkeys, ducks, venison, quail, peccaries, pigeons, and a wide variety of fish and shellfish.  Early traditional dishes included atole (porridge), tortillas (very thin flatbread), tamales (filled pastries, both savory and sweet), and sopas (soups). T he cuisine has expanded to include a wide variety of dishes way beyond burritos, tacos and salsa.  


Because I lived in San Antonio, Texas some years ago, I am very familiar with the TexMex cuisine.  If I were to choose a cuisine that was my all-time favorite of all then I would have to say that it is TexMex without any additional thought.  Food historians tell us TexMex cuisine originated hundreds of years ago when Spanish/Mexican recipes combined with Anglo fare.  TexMex, as we Americans know it today, is a twentieth century phenomenon.  Dictionaries and food history sources confirm the first print evidence of the term "Tex Mex" occurred in the 1940s.  Linguists remind us words are often used for several years before they appear in print.  TexMex restaurants first surfaced outside the southwest region in cities with large Mexican populations. The gourmet Tex Mex "fad" began in the 1970s.  Diana Kennedy, noted Mexican culinary expert, is credited for elevating this common food to trendy fare.  These foods appealed to the younger generation.


What is Tex-Mex?


"Tex-Mex food might be described as native foreign food, contradictory through that term may seem, It is native, for it does not exist elsewhere; it was born on this soil. But it is foreign in that its inspiration came from an alien cuisine; that it has never merged into the mainstream of American cooking and remains alive almost solely in the region where it originated..." ---Eating in America, Waverly Root & Richard de Rochemont [William Morrow:New York] 1976 (p. 281) [1940s] "Tex-Mex. A combination of the words "Texan" and "Mexican," first printed in 1945, that refers to an adaptation of Mexican dishes by Texas cooks. It is difficult to be precise as to what distinguishes Tex-Mex from true Mexican food, except to say that the variety of the latter is wider and more regional, whereas throughout the state and, now, throughout the entire United States." ---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 325)


[1950s] "Mexican restaurants, whose popularity coincided with the arrival of large numbers of Mexican immigrants after 1950, have for the most part followed the from and style of what is called "Tex-Mex" food, and amalgam of Northern Mexican peasant food with Texas farm and cowboy fare. Chili, which some consider Texas's state dish, was unknown in Mexico and derived from the ample use of beef in Texan cooking. "Refried beans" are a mistranslation of the Mexican dish frijoles refritos, which actually means well-fried beans...The combination platter of enchiladas, tacos, and tortillas became the unvarying standards of the Tex-Mex menu, while new dishes like chimichangas (supposedly invented in the the 1950s at El Charro restaurant in Tucson, Arizona) and nachos (supposedly first served at a concession at Dallas's State Fair of Texas in 1964...) were concocted to please the American palate....One Tex-Mex item that may someday rival the pizza as an extraordinarily successful ethnic dish is the fajita...introduced at Ninfa's in Houston on July 13, 1973, as tacos al carbon. No one knows when or where it acquired the name fajita, which means girdle' or 'strip' in Spanish and refers to the skirt steak originally used in the preparation...Only in the last decade has refined, regional Mexican food taken a foot-hold in American cities, reflecting not only the tenets of Tex-Mex cookery by the cuisines of Mexico City, the Yucatan, and other regions with long-standing culinary traditions." ---America Eats Out, John Mariani [William Morrow:New York] 1991 (p. 80-1)  Shall I say it?...The First Taco Bell opened in 1952.


[1970s]  "In the good old days, Texans went to "Mexican restaurants" and ate "Mexican food." Then in 1972, The Cuisines of Mexico, an influential cookbook by food authority Diana Kennedy, drew the line between authentic interior Mexican food and the "mixed plates" we ate at "so-called Mexican restaurants" in the United States. Kennedy and her friends in the food community began referring to Americanized Mexican food as "Tex-Mex," a term previously used to describe anything that was half-Texan and half-Mexican. Texas-Mexican restaurant owners considered it an insult. By a strange twist of fate, the insult launched a success. For the rest of the world, "Tex-Mex" had an exciting ring. It evoked images of cantinas, cowboys and the Wild West. Dozens of Tex-Mex restaurants sprang up in Paris, and the trend spread across Europe and on to Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Abu Dhabi. Tortilla chips, margaritas and chili con carne are now well-known around the world."


Although I care little for the Taco Bell food, I truly adore good TexMex food.   Chimichangas, Enchiladas, Tacos, Tamales and refried beans are what really turn me on.  Chips and Salsa is my basic snack food as you will see below.  Chili has a special place in my heart and I have an entire page of this website dedicated to chili.  I don't have a lot of recipes in Thom's Recipe File because I seldom prepare TexMex fare.  It is just to easy and too good at my favorite TexMex restaurants.   I have my favorite TexMex Restaurants such as "Don Papa Grande" or "Jalape๑o's" in Chester, Virginia where I live.  



• Chalupa
• Chili Rellenos
• Chili Verde in Crockpot
• Enchilada Pie
• Guacamole
• Make Your Own Salsa
• Pico de Gallo
• Pico de Gallo II
• Pico de Gallo III
• Pico de Gallo Salsa
• Salsa
• Salsa Firehouse
• Salsa My Favorite
• South of the Border Salsa
• Taco Salad
• Taco Salad for a Crowd
• Tamale Pie


What is Cinco de Mayo?

In the United States Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is observed by many Anglo-Americans regardless of ethnic origins, particularly along the southern border states where there is a large Hispanic population. Although it is no more an officially recognized holiday than St. Patrick's Day or May Day in the United States, many cities with large Hispanic populations honor the day as a symbolic representation of Hispanic pride and as a representation of a culture that blends both Mexican and American roots. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols, such as the Virgin de Guadalupe, as well as prominent figures of Mexican descent in the United States, such as Cesar Chavez. The National Cinco de Mayo Festival is held every year in Washington, DC, hosted by the Maru Montero Dance Company.

The reference to the Battle of Puebla is seen as a symbolic cultural link to those who had to overcome insurmountable odds while facing adversity. In neighborhoods such as East Los Angeles, the Mission District of San Francisco, East San Jose and elsewhere throughout the Southwest, Cinco de Mayo is most accurately characterized as a day of celebration to honor a culture that fuses Mexican heritage and American life experience. To celebrate, many display Cinco de Mayo banners while school districts hold special events to educate students about its historical significance. Special events and celebrations highlight the Mexican culture, especially in its music and regional dancing. Examples include ballet folkl๓rico and mariachi demonstrations held annually at the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Angeles near Olvera Street.

Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration advertising Mexican products and services with an emphasis on foods, beverages, and music. While this commercialism has led some Hispanics to regard Cinco de Mayo as essentially a commercial contrivance rather than an authentically Mexican event, the date is perhaps best recognized in North America as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican descent, much like St. Patrick's Day or Oktoberfest being used to celebrate those of Irish and German descent, respectively.

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