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Old 07-20-2007, 05:03 PM   #1
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Exclamation Is it real, or is it Tex-Mex?

Is it real, or is it Tex-Mex?
Mexico wants the world to know what food is authentic
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MEXICO CITY -- Worried by the global proliferation of deep fat-fried chimichangas, fajitas, margaritas and fried ice cream, the Mexican government is recruiting U.S. and Canadian restaurateurs to set the world straight on what is real Mexican food.

Read the full article here:
Is it real, or is it Tex-Mex?

(Lugaru has long been annoyed that people strive to eat "authentic" ethnic food but are willing to douse tortilla shells in sour cream and call it Mexican, about as much of a crime as manifest destiny was).

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Old 07-20-2007, 05:45 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting the article Lugaro, I enjoyed it. Do you have any pig feet recipes to share? About your comment at the end.

(skilletlicker finds it a tad hyperbolic)
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Old 07-20-2007, 06:10 PM   #3
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Great article! It seems that Mexican food is one cuisines that is most confused in the US. Italian and Chinese are up there too, but I think Mexican probably takes the cake.
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Old 07-20-2007, 06:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB
...I think Mexican probably takes the cake.
Cake? What cake? There was no cake. It was fried ice cream. Didn't you read the article?


ETA: Americans know what real Mexican cuisine is all about. This Carlos Gonzalez character obviously never watched Rick Bayless on PBS
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Old 07-20-2007, 06:35 PM   #5
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Finaly! It hurts to watch what people eat as "Mexican" here. Including my S(on)IL, whose favorite place is Chili's and he thinks he is eating good authentic Mexican food.
I'm lucky to know some great Mexican cooks and have learned a lot from them.
Boy, was SIL shocked when I cooked only REAL Mexican for a b'day party!
He loved all of it and didn't recognize any of the dishes (no wonder)
I truely love and appreciate Mexican food. In my opinion it is one of the tastiest cuisines, with deep, complex flavors, that you get none of in the usual Mex restaurants.
It upsets me, because the same (no, a lot worse) is happening with my native cuisine.
As I always say, don't mind if ppl twist the original dishes around, just don't call them what they are not anymore!

Yes GB is right, same is happening with Chinese food too (and many others I'm sure).
Can't eat in regular Chinese restaurants, but LOVE the food in Chinatown in SF!!
Don't even care to know what I'm eating (many times I don't), everything is great and very different from the usual offerings.
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Old 07-20-2007, 07:46 PM   #6
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Depends on where you live TexMex is what it says a version of mexican and Texan,California Mex I think they started the sour cream thing,Arizona also has its own version, here in New Mexico its different in different parts of the state then there is Northern New Mexico food which is different but my favorite because of the green and red chile grown here.But to me if you say authentic Mexican would mean to me Old Mexico and I think some places try to adapt to where they start as authentic mexican to draw business because if it doesnt sound somewhat familiar people wont go there.Also in Old Mexico food is regional so what you had in one part of the country will be totally different in another part no different than any other country in the world.
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Old 07-20-2007, 08:05 PM   #7
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Taco Bell is not Tex-Mex

I'm going to be accused again of irrelevant historical perspective but I'll risk it and share a few thoughts anyway.

Mexican culture and cuisine is regional, not monolithic. I would love to see a cooking show that discusses and demonstrates this like Molto Mario does for Italian. Rick Bayless does some it now.

The Tejas region and the Tejano culture predates Mexican independence from Spain. That culture didn't die with the with Mexican independence, Texan independence or the Mexican American War. Tejano cooking existed long before Taco Bell or the first Mexican restaurant in Boston and that is what should properly be called Tex-Mex whether a dish was first named in Eagle Pass, Texas or across the river in Piedras Negras, part of Coahuila, Mexico. To some extent this continuation of Mexican culture inside the US is true from Texas to California and north clear to Wyoming.
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Old 07-20-2007, 08:10 PM   #8
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Having spent a lot of time in new Mexico (and Arizona) I must admit you find a lot of things on the menu there which are very similar to Mexican cooking, although the spice is usually off the charts.

Btw if anybody is in Boston I cannot recomend Tu y Yo enough, authentic food all the way down to crickets (cruncy!). There's a review on my site.

And about taking the cake... I might track down a "pastel de las tres leches" recipe for the forum. A very moist cake with a cup of condense milk, one of half and half and one of... sweetened I think? Gotta go dig for it.
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Old 07-20-2007, 10:17 PM   #9
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Anthony Bordaine does a show on Mexico on his No Reservations program. It is quite good.

The CIA in Hyde PArk has been given a grant to establish a campus in San Antonio specializing in Latino cuisines. Quite an opportunity.

I think we will see Latin American Cuisines and African cuisines establish themselves strongly in the next decade.

However, the average eater is not interested in authentic cuisine, but in quick and easy and what's familiar. For better or worse, both elements will co-exist well into the fututre.
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Old 07-21-2007, 08:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo410

the average eater is not interested in authentic cuisine, but in quick and easy and what's familiar.
I only think the second half of that statement is correct. I further think that if authentic cuisine was familiar to them then they would be just as interested as they are in non-authentic cuisine (with some exceptions). The majority of people only eat what they eat because it is available and easy to access. If authentic places popped up and were easy to get to them more people would be into them.
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Old 07-21-2007, 08:42 AM   #11
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I have to agree... my perspective is tainted because I went from Mexico to Boston with only a brief stop in middle america (West Virginia) but so many people see Pad Thai as comfort food, or Pho as a good way to kick off a weekend after partying too much. For me Dim Sum is a wonderful way to get together friends and family. As you learn about these things they become part of your life, you dont become mexican or asian but your own soul is enritched. Also Unlike film and music, food has no language element, no translation is necesary.

But I would love to see the Mexican style of eating a bit more here, for example burritos are tiny, a good tortilla with a dab of filling. You normally eat 3 or so in a sitting. These blimps... they just dont make sense to me. I rather a wrap (say turkey and swiss) than a burrito because it seems more like a sandwich as oposed to a filling to compliment a freshly made tortilla. Likewise Im used to places where you can sit, order 2 or 3 tacos, get something else and just eat as you go along. I feel that dining here can be too rigid... apetizer, entree, desert. Coffee. Check please. I would rather see more stuff like single tacos and single burritos and half orders of things.
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Old 07-21-2007, 11:19 AM   #12
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The “Mexican” food that we cook and eat here is Tex-Mex; but it’s what we have grown up eating and so it’s what we like. But then isn’t that what America is all about; the blending of cultures?

We have a very large Hispanic population here in the South Eastern part of Texas and our two cultures have blended; I don’t see that as something bad.
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Old 07-21-2007, 11:47 AM   #13
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No, it is not bad at all! Tex-Mex is good!
The only bad thing is - at least it makes me angry - to have Tex-Mex food in a "Mexican" restaurant and call it authentic Mexican food!
Same with other cuisines. It is not right!
I am proud of my culinary heritage and do not like to see authentic Hu recipes twisted around and still called "authentic"
So, I think other people feel (or should) the same way about their culinary heritage.
Tex-Mex IS good, but it's NOT Mexican.

By the way, what would be considered authentic American food?
People in EU asked me that and I didn't have an answer.
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Old 07-21-2007, 11:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitmondol

By the way, what would be considered authentic American food?
People in EU asked me that and I didn't have an answer.
Some things that come to my mind would be BBQ and soul food, New England boiled dinner, Hamburgers, (not to mention fast food junk ).
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Old 07-21-2007, 11:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitmondol
No, it is not bad at all! Tex-Mex is good!
The only bad thing is - at least it makes me angry - to have Tex-Mex food in a "Mexican" restaurant and call it authentic Mexican food!
Same with other cuisines. It is not right!
I am proud of my culinary heritage and do not like to see authentic Hu recipes twisted around and still called "authentic"
So, I think other people feel (or should) the same way about their culinary heritage.
Tex-Mex IS good, but it's NOT Mexican.
EXACTLY!!! Very well said!
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Old 07-21-2007, 12:24 PM   #16
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Great article but I don't get bothered by any of this. No country can exactly replicate another countries cusine. There is always a bit of fusion involved based on the local countries access to ingredients and tastes. That's just the way it is across the board. Heck, FF taste different here they they do in Belgium. I've never had Fish & chips here with the fish skin still intact. But in England they leave the skin on, etc. etc. Incidently, I'd rather have a burrito then fried pigs feet with egg. Just me tho.
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Old 07-21-2007, 12:37 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitmondol
No, it is not bad at all! Tex-Mex is good!
The only bad thing is - at least it makes me angry - to have Tex-Mex food in a "Mexican" restaurant and call it authentic Mexican food!
Same with other cuisines. It is not right!
I am proud of my culinary heritage and do not like to see authentic Hu recipes twisted around and still called "authentic"
So, I think other people feel (or should) the same way about their culinary heritage.
Tex-Mex IS good, but it's NOT Mexican.

By the way, what would be considered authentic American food?
People in EU asked me that and I didn't have an answer.
We've had conversations before about authentic American food and it seems to me after you finish talking about Thanksgiving dinner it breaks down into authentic regional cuisines.

I think these tight lines we're trying to draw around what is Mexican and what isn't make more sense if you didn't grow up in a part of the US that used to be part of Mexico. There are a lot of Mexican cooks who would be amused to hear that their food has been deemed unauthentic in Boston.
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Old 07-21-2007, 01:50 PM   #18
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Yes I can see what you mean. My grandfather on my mother’s side was from France but he was half French and half German. My grandmother on my mother’s side was Creole / a mixture of French, Spanish and African. My father was German on both sides.

My Grandmother being the cook in the family made traditional Creole food and my mother learning to cook from her mother made traditional Creole food and of course learning to cook from my mother I also cook traditional Creole food but then we moved to Texas and I’ve learned to cook Tex-Mex, I guess you would call it Tex-German and Tex-Polish.

We also have a large German and Polish population here in Texas. They make some of the best sausage that you have ever put in your mouth. I guess a person from Germany or Poland would be put out by what we call German and Polish food.
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Old 07-21-2007, 02:50 PM   #19
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Betty, your last post highlights another difference in peoples perspective. If your idea of what defines authentic food comes from home kitchens of friends and family who are first and second generation immigrants, you aren't likely to have the same picture as someones whose ideas were formed primarily by authentic restaurant cuisine or a formal culinary education. My favorite Mexican restaurants tend to be the ones where I might be the only gringo in the building.
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Old 07-21-2007, 02:57 PM   #20
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My feeling about this is get with reality folks

I am an old person and have seen my most sacred of drinks, the martini, turned into everything it is not. Without a whimper or whine from the general populace.

I accepted it.

I have also seen food that never, ever would be served in China in Chinese restaurants (yep, there was a time I could translate the menus in Chinese restaurants in in NY and SF Chinatowns and order from them). Most Americans have no idea what authentic Chinese food is.

Heck have a second cousin once removed who went to China and compained they could not make a decent pepper steak. Just an example.

If a restaurant wishes to call their food authentic anything, well, it seems to me one can try it and decide if they like it or not. And then go back, or not, or try to find a lawyer who will press a suit for some law I know nothing about.

"Your honor, that place says they serve true Oaxacan cuisine and no self respecting Oazacan would ever eat that slop."

Good luck pressing that case.

Look, once a region's or county's cuisine is up for interpretation it will be, well, interpreted.

Sorry. But that is the way cooks are.

I do feel a bit peckish at the moment, sorry.
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