Nachos, Tacos, and Beans, Oh My!
It has come to my attention that there is an issue or some concern among foodies about the difference between Tex-Mex food and authentic Mexican food.
Now, I am having a pause even using the term “authentic”, because of the term’s literal definition.
Authentic – adjective – of undisputed origin; genuine; real.
Now, I also take pause with the use of the term because to me, all food is real. All food is authentic to the person who is cooking it, serving it, and eating it.
I mean, am I right?
Real is real.
Food is food.
But I am learning that it is not.
If I ask my Hispanic friends, they will definitely look at me sidewise if I even suggest that there is no difference.
I mean, I know that there is, but can’t we all just get along???
Guys, I am so kidding right now. I know that there is a definitive difference.
I just don’t like the use of the term authentic, because to me, if it’s something I cooked and it’s homemade, then by gosh, it’s authentic!
But I get it. Trust me, I have had both. Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food, thanks to my Hispanic homies!
I found it interesting, that when I googled it, that so many funny different definitions or reasons why there is truly a debate on this.
One of the things I read, alluded to the fact that the use of black beans or beef is a marker for Tex-Mex.
I feel, like the food just tastes different.
And you have to know that I love Tex-Mex!
If you have ever been to Asadero’s on Main Street in Ft. Worth, that is authentic Mexican food. And let me give you prime example of why I know in my heart that the food they serve is “real”.
1: They have menudo on their menu. And you will not find menudo on a Tex-Mex menu.
2: Their grandmother is the only person who makes the tamales. So, if she is sick or is on vacation, their will be no tamales. How do I know? Because we ordered them, and that is what they told us.
3: Their staff is made up primarily of family. The bartender and our favorite server are brothers.
Now, I am not saying that other Mexican food restaurants which are owned by family do not employ other family members. I am just simply stating that family working in the family restaurant is a tell-tale sign that you will be served authentic Mexican food.
Benito’s on Magnolia in Ft. Worth – another authentic Mexican food restaurant. The food is amazing, and the menu is in Spanish. Enough said.
My friend Prag Padilla will tell you unequivocally, “If Caldo de res is not on the menu – not authentic. I feel authentic Mexican food is food you enjoy with your family and Tex-Mex is more can it fit on a tortilla ‘cause I gotta go! Also, if the beans have lard in them, then it’s Tex-Mex.”
Bam! There you have it!
However, in the same breath, Prag also disclosed this to me. “I went to Mexico City recently for a job. And their food is very very French inspired. I was like, man, I’m gonna get some great Mexican food! Nope. But one morning I did have some killer crepes!”
I love it! Very interesting!
I mean, who would have thought? You go to Mexico City expecting to get the best authentic Mexican food of your life, and you get French-Mexican fusion. How interesting?
“That area is literally where the Mexican white house is, called Los Pinos, but you see how much the country is and was still inspired by other countries. Even though I am not a huge Mexican food fan, I like checking out the difference. From California where it’s very taco-related to Arizona where you see how it is Native American inspired to Texas where you see that Tex-Mex is literally what ranch hands would eat. As mentioned, refried beans -how can you eat left over beans a few days down the road? Well, mash them and put some lard and make it last a bit longer!” Prag says.
Awesome to have friends who have travelled the world and can shed some light on the almost indescribable nature of authentic versus not so much!
I will always be a fan of the Tex-Mex for sure! It is what we were raised on when eating what we thought was Mexican food. It doesn’t have to be a huge debate or deal. Eat what you want where you want. Eat what you love when you want to eat it. Eat the beef fajitas, even though one friend told me that fajitas are Tex-Mex, and that’s ok. I am down with anything I can eat with tortilla!
So, while you are probably waiting on me to offer some recipe this week, it’s simply not going to happen.
Here is my version of Tex-Mex.
Tex-Mex Chopped Salad with Taco Ranch Dressing
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
I package of Taco seasoning
6 cups of Romaine lettuce, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
I cup of corn kernels (I prefer frozen)
4 green onions, sliced
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup mild shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup of cilantro, chopped
1 cup of crushed tortilla chips
For the dressing:
1 cup of prepared Ranch dressing
2 tablespoons for Taco Seasoning (this should come from another package of seasoning)
In a small bowl, whisk together the Ranch dressing and mild taco seasoning until well-combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Season the chicken breast on both sides with the taco seasoning. In a large, non-stick skillet, cook the chicken breasts over medium-high heat until cooked through, approximately 12 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, toss the romaine lettuce, chopped cilantro, corn, drained and rinsed black beans, and shredded cheddar cheese. When chicken is finished cooking, let it cool and then slice it into pieces and add to the salad. Add the dressing a little a time, then gently toss the salad to ensuring that everything is combined and coated. Garnish the top with the sliced green onions and crushed tortilla chips.
Serve immediately in bowls and enjoy!
This is a Tex-Mex as Sweet M gets right there!
I hope the article finds you happy, healthy, and no longer confused on the ins and outs of Tex-Mex versus authentic Mexican food.
And as always, I wish you peace, love, and amazing, delicious food!