The Origins of Tex-Mex
The standard narrative about Tex-Mex is that it’s an inauthentic, unartful, cheese-covered fusion, the kind of eating meant to be paired with unhealthy amounts of alcohol or to cure the effects thereof. There’s a lot of easy-melt cheese, the margaritas are made with a mix, and the salsas come from a bottle. In our snackwave food moment, Tex-Mex receives the same amount of affection and respect as a Doritos Locos taco or a microwaved burrito — a processed, comforting, lovable American monster.
So what is the food we call Tex-Mex, really? Its origins lie in an extremely obvious time and place that tends to be obscured in modern Texas: when Texas was part of Mexico. Before cowboys, there were vaqueros; before Anglo Texans, there were Spanish-Mexican Tejanos. Their culture gave rise to a rustic ranch cuisine heavy on local chiles, pecans, beans, stews, and flour tortillas as well as corn. (A note: chile is the pepper; chili is the dish; chilly is the opposite of how your mouth, nose, and guts will feel after consuming either.)
From “The Myth of Authenticity is Killing Tex-Mex” by Meghan McCarron for Eater; Photos by Meghan McCarron
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