The majesty of Tex-Mex cuisine is not lost on noted author and Mexican food culture expert Gustavo Arellano. He was recently in Texas on a tour to promote his new book "Taco USA" and he must have eaten quite well on his visit.
In a column for OC Weekly titled "Five Tex-Mex Food Specialties That Should Go Nationwide--Or At Least to California" Arellano pleads for some of our glorious regional food specialties to migrate to the Golden State.
Who can blame him? We've got it good in Texas. We can eat real deal Mexican food like the kind mujeres puts on the table for the family in Puebla or we can eat real deal Tex-Mex food, the kind mujeres puts on the table for the family in Harlingen.
Either way, there is no other place in the United States with as rich and varied a tradition of Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisine as Texas. Let's look at the dishes we take for granted that Arellano is pining for:
1] There's a reason why there are long lines at Amaya's Taco Village and Tamale House on any given morning: Migas. After a long night at Beerland, there are few things that taste as good as this Texas blend of eggs, tomatoes, chiles, tortilla strips and mountains of cheese. A life in California without migas to dull the pain? Unthinkable.
2] Anybody who's been to El Paso knows a] there is an abnormally high ratio of assholes out that way [hence the famous song] and b] they have a regional variation on the burrito that is most delicious. Crisostomo, one of the famous old-school Juarez burrito houses is our source in El Paso. They're still making the flour tortillas from scratch, plus they're not putting a bunch of weird ingredients like guacamole or rice in their burritos. We love the stripped down "El Paso" burrito and the thought of California living without this essential food? Black.
3] Gustavo's elegy to the flour tortilla is a heart breaker. We've eaten as many bad ones as we have good ones, unfortunately, but in the hands of a dedicated taquera, this simple food can be transcendent. Tejano Taco in Seguin, El Rincon in Pflugerville and Nicha's in San Antonio are our favorite spots. We had no idea that people in California live their lives scratch tortilla-free. Add that to the long list of reasons we live in Texas.
4] Puffy Tacos are one of the most naughty foods in the Tex-Mex canon. Only the most dedicated of libertines eat these, hot-from-the-fryer treats, as they are little more than corn,meat and grease. Arellano admits that California has at least one source so we can't feel too sorry for folks trapped out that way.
5] We had a hard time deciphering Arellano's ode to the breakfast taco. We did get the feeling that he likes them though. Mystifyingly, Californians enjoy the abomination that is the breakfast burrito, an unfathomably and senselessly huge breakfast taco. On our travels, we've run into breakfast tacos in other parts of the United States so there's little doubt that California will soon experience the waves of pleasure that this simple food can give the eater.
Typically excellent writing from Arellano. We've been reading this guy for years and used his brilliant Ask A Mexican syndicated column as a teaching aid when we were in the education game. Can't wait to tackle his brand new book "Taco USA" and see how he comes off in longform.
here's a link to the piece http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit/2012/05/tex-me
and our look at "Gourmet trucks are hip and all the rage, but all of you are idiots." Ask A Mexican! On Food Carts http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/2011/6/27