One of America’s Favorites – Tex-Mex Cuisine

September 2, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Examples of modern Tex-Mex dishes and ingredients: corn, tortilla chips, cheese, tacos, salsa, chilies, and beef dishes

Tex-Mex cuisine (from Texan and Mexican), also known as Mexican American cuisine, is a fusion of Mexican and American cuisines, deriving from the culinary creations of the Tejano people living in Texas. It has spread from border states such as Texas and others in the Southwestern United States to the rest of the country as well as Canada. Tex-Mex is most popular in Texas and neighboring areas, especially nearby states in both the US and Mexico. The Mexican food market is a 41 billion dollar industry within the United States.

Tex-Mex is a subtype of Southwestern cuisine found in Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Some ingredients are common in Mexican cuisine, but other ingredients not typically used in Mexico are often added. Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of shredded cheese, meat (particularly beef, pork and chicken), beans, peppers and spices, in addition to flour tortillas.

Generally cheese plays a much bigger role in Tex-Mex food than in mainstream Mexican cuisine, particularly in the popularity of Chile con queso (often referred to as simply “queso”) which is often eaten with chips (alongside or in place of guacamole and salsa), or may be served over enchiladas, tamales or burritos.

Moreover, Tex-Mex has imported flavors from other spicy cuisines, such as the use of cumin, introduced by Spanish immigrants to Texas from the Canary Islands and used in Berber cuisine, but used in only a few central Mexican recipes. And in recent years Tex-Mex has incorporated elements of traditional Mexican food into the cuisine, including the more creative use of chile peppers and the serving of so-called “street tacos” (which would be simply called “tacos” in Mexico).

The word “Tex-Mex” first entered the English language as a nickname for the Texas Mexican Railway, chartered in southern Texas in 1875. In train schedules published in the newspapers of the 19th century the names of railroads were abbreviated. The Missouri Pacific was called the Mo. Pac. and the Texas-Mexican was abbreviated Tex. Mex. In the 1920s, the hyphenated form was used in American newspapers in reference to the railroad and to describe Texans of Mexican ancestry.

Chili with garnishes and tortilla chips

In the mission era, Spanish and Mexican cuisines were combined in Texas as in other parts of the northern frontier of New Spain. However, the cuisine that would come to be called Tex-Mex originated with Tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent) as a mix of native Mexican and Spanish foods when Texas was part of New Spain and later Mexico.

From the South Texas region between San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, this cuisine has had little variation, and from earliest times has always been influenced by the cooking in the neighboring northern states of Mexico. The ranching culture of South Texas and Northern Mexico straddles both sides of the border, where beef, grilled food, and tortillas have been common and popular foods for more than a century.[8] A taste for cabrito (kid goat), barbacoa de cabeza (barbecued beef heads), carne seca (dried beef), and other products of cattle culture is also common on both sides of the Rio Grande.

In the 20th century, Tex-Mex took on such Americanized elements as cheddar cheese, as goods from the United States became cheap and readily available.

In much of Texas, the cooking styles on both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border were the same until a period after the U.S. Civil War. With the railroads, American ingredients and cooking appliances became common on the U.S. side.

Fajitas, Wheat Tortillas as taco wraps

A 1968 Los Angeles Times feature wrote “[i]f the dish is a combination of Old World cooking, hush-my-mouth Southern cuisine and Tex-Mex, it’s from the Texas Hill Country.”

In France, Paris’s first Tex-Mex restaurant opened in March 1983. After the 1986 release of the film Betty Blue, Tex-Mex cuisine’s popularity in Paris increased.

 

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