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TDG: Robb Walsh's Tex-Mex Cookbook


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When Walsh talks about Tex-Mex, he means the food that originated in Texas, more specifically in the South West part of the state in San Antonio and in the Rio Grande valley. He makes it clear that such Americanized Mexican items like San Francisco’s steak burritos, San Diego’s fish tacos and Tucson’s chimichangas do not belong in this book and will not be discussed.

Elie Nassar (aka our own FoodMan) follows Walsh from Paris, France to Paris, Texas in pursuit of authentic food and the real history of "the ugly duckling of American regional cuisines."

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Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Nice write-up... I may need to pick that book up.

I don't understand why Tex-Mex and Americanized Mexican food is so looked down upon. Sure, it isn't authentic (well, you could say the Tex-Mex is authentic unto itself), but it is darn tasty. There is a place for real Mexican, real Mexican inspired Texas food (Tex-Mex?) and good old Americanized Mexican.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I was surprised not to see a mention of the Tex-Mex "quesadilla", the grilled cheese dish of this cuisine. Maybe it’s like the fish taco, Mexican-American not Tex-Mex.

A note about the Quesadilla -- they are legitimately Mexican. I've had them in households in Mexico and also in Tacquerias in the D.F. and in the US in very Mexican neighborhoods.

A very typical Quesadilla is the white cheese and ham and they are very simple compared to some of the complex monstrosities served at chain Tex-Mex restaurants -- usually a Quesadilla is a snack or a light meal. There are also legitimate variations of the Quesadilla which are more like steak Tacos with melted cheese (as they are made with smaller tortillas, Quesadillas are usually made with larger ones which are sandwiched together and then pan grilled) but are called something else.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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BTW, in looking up some legit Quesadilla recipes, I found this really cool site in Mexico at the University of Guadalajara:

http://mexico.udg.mx/cocina/cocinamex.html (Spanish)

http://mexico.udg.mx/cocina/ingles/menu/frame.html (English)

If you go to the "Menu" page and click on Antojitos (Typical Food), you'll find quite a few legit Quesadilla recipes. Note the Spanish version of the site has more stuff than the English one.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Jason-

True, Quesadillas are a Mexican food. However, just like tacos the true Mexican ones bear very little resemblance to the Tex-Mex variety. The one made with flour tortillas and filled with lots of melted chihuahuah cheese and fajita meat. They are quiet good in their own right. These were the ones I was wondering about.

There is an excellent Mexican restaurant restaurant in Houston that serves Mexican street food like the one found in Mexico city not Tex-Mex. Under Quesadillas they have a disclaimer saying something to the effect of, "these are Mexican quesadillas, not Tex-Mex". all they are are soft corn tortilla tacos with shredded cheese.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I wonder... Walsh talks about stacked enchiladas. But I've been under the impression that those were a product of New Mexico and not of Texas. If I'm right in my recollection, does it still fall under the Tex-Mex umbrella? The "Mex" part, I suppose? :unsure: Or are they their own thing?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I wonder... Walsh talks about stacked enchiladas. But I've been under the impression that those were a product of New Mexico and not of Texas. If I'm right in my recollection, does it still fall under the Tex-Mex umbrella? The "Mex" part, I suppose? :unsure: Or are they their own thing?

You might be thinking of the stacked enchiladas that he got in Marfa. They originated at the Old Borunda Cafe in Marfa, now at Borunda's Bar & Grill. I wondered as well about the NewMex connection, having had my first stacked enchilada in Taos many years ago. Then I thought about it... Hell... If you are in Marfa, you are almost in New Mexico.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I wondered about the Tex-Mex implication about stacked enchiladas. Lived on them for breakfast whenever we were in New Mexico, even when I was breezin' or workin' racehorses. They were very good at Ruidoso Downs little cafe. Very good in Las Cruces as well.

As far as quesadillas, don't you reckon that they're indigenous to anyplace there was tortillas and cheese?

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I'm guessing that the Houston restaurant serving antojitos mentioned above is probably Gorditas Aguascalientes on Bissonnet.

No, it's actually "100% Taquito". I've been meaning to try Gorditas Aguascalientes for a while though.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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What's the name of the restaurant in Paris and who are the proprietors?

The name slips my mind now. I will check when I get back home from work and let you know.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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As a native Texan, I think this book should be required reading for every Texas History class. How many of you knew what Pancho Villa's real name (Doroteo Arango) was until you read this book, eh? I sure as heck didn't!

Frank in Austin

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The connection with The Canary Islands had me slapping my forehead. It was one of those Why-Didn't-I-Know-That? moments. :blink:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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What's the name of the restaurant in Paris and who are the proprietors?

The name slips my mind now. I will check when I get back home from work and let you know.

Elie

Ok, he mentiones several Parisian Tex-Mex places:

Cafe Pacifico where he had one of the best cheese enchiladas ever.

Indiana Cafe

Del Rio Cafe

Mexi and CO

I do not believe he mentiones any proprietors.

Fifi and Frank-

The history was amazing, I would never have known all these facts had I not read this book. I was also intrigued by the North African influence that he mentiones.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I spend time in The Hague and there are several TexMex places that usually call themselves Mexican, especially in the seaside resort area of Scheveningen. When you look at the menu and taste it it is TexMex. (Well... A mild form of TexMex.)

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Tex-Mex is a cuisine unto itself, IMO. Texas has a rich history of diverse cultures ( just like alot of US states) that loan thier food history to us, which, after a time, created a unique food blend. Cali, New Mexico, Arizona as well have created thier own styles that they have adapted from diferent Southwestern cultures.

I love the stuff!! :biggrin:

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Were one to do a tour of Tex-Mex in Houston to get a sample of the subtle variations, the places to visit would, in my opinon, be:

Lopez on Wilcrest

Ninfa's on Navigation

Felix on Westhemer

Fiesta Loma Linda on Telephone (but for the crispy puffed up tacos only)

Spanish Village on Alameda

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