Texican Treasures
April 24, 2020
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Tex Mex and Mexican Food Are Different Cuisines

Author: Administrator
Today nearly every great city in the world has a restaurant that bills itself as Mexican cuisine. In reality, much of what passes for Mexican in international settings is actually an amalgam of recipes that has come to be known as Tex Mex.

Food historians say that Tex Mex cuisine originated almost 200 years ago when northern Mexico and what became Texas were under the same rulers. In fact, the Spanish-dominated Mexican government invited Anglos to come to southern Texas as settlers, in order to build up the population and its economy. A region inhospitable for most farming, the primary industry became ranching, that is, raising thousands of head of beef cattle for tables back east.

With a porous border, people and food traveled back and forth easily, blending seamlessly until few could tell what was indigenous Texas food and what was native Mexican food, with Spanish touches. Thus Tex Mex was born, a strong combination of hearty beef, sometimes pork or chicken, cooked with chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, corn and flour tortillas and beans, all staples of the region. Known for decades as a regional specialty, Tex Mex really took off in the early 1970s as a favorite of younger generations. Gourmets began to dress up the hearty fare of yore with seafood and desserts such as flan and puff pastries known as sopapillas, typically served with honey.

However, authentic Mexican cuisine is vastly different from its blended cousin, Tex Mex. Each state and some regions within Mexico have traditional dishes with enormous culinary histories. A few examples from this compendium include:

Nuevo Leon: If any single Mexican state could be considered the grandfather of Tex Mex cuisine, it's Nuevo Leon along the Rio Grande. Here we find enormous corn tortillas (more than 25 inches in diameter) called Sobaqueras, used to eat beef such as the Arrachera. Nuevo Leon is also home to today's popular fajitas and burritos.

Tamaulipas: This coastal state gave birth to Carne a la Tampiquea, large sized meat steaks, which were grilled and served accompanied by black beans, guacamole (mashed avocados with tomatoes, onions and spices) and rice.

Puebla: Mole Poblano, the thick, dark complex sauce made of chocolate and other ingredients, originated in Puebla. Mole most often is used with chicken, although it can adorn any meat. Many restaurants feature enchiladas in mole, or corn tortillas stuffed with chicken, cheese and onions or beef, and baked in mole sauce.

Yucatan: The ancient home of the Maya, Yucatan is the birthplace of Cochinita Pibil, a dish of pork meat marinated in strongly acidic citrus juice colored with annatto seed, and roasted wrapped in a banana leaf.

South-Central Mexico: Here cooks find Pozole, a soup created by Aztec people. Some ingredients changed after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, but most of the original recipe remains: a meat broth containing with corn, avocado and some spices. Another regional favorite is Tacos de guisado, with flour or corn tortillas wrapped around a meat stew.

Jalisco: This state on the Pacific side of Mexico is best known for Birria, a tomato-based stew with pork or goat, often served with corn tortillas, and pico de gallo, a condiment made of cubed jicama, onion, cilantro, tomato and lime.

Mexican meals often are finished with sweet desserts, many of which are made with chocolate (xocolatl, considered the food of the gods). There are also traditional Mexican candies such as Cocadas made of milk and coconut, Mueganos or popcorn with caramelized sugar and Alegrias candies made of amaranth seed and bee honey.

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