My latest Tex-Mex heros

Our household has had a lot of out-of-town guests lately, which means that we’ve been making a lot of trips to Burma Superstar. That means a lot of chili lamb, okra tofu curry, coconut rice, and Burmese salads. Mmm-mmm.

The long wait for a table at Burma Superstar also means a lot of trips to Green Apple Books, just down the street. On Monday night, I leafed through a copy of The Border Cookbook by Bill and Cheryl Alters Jamison. I’m a very indecisive book buyer (there’s always the library), but I was so pleased by the love and respect this almost 500-page monster shows for border cuisine that I lugged it all around the store with me and finally decided to buy it.

“The combination plate is purely Texan in origin … but the critics ignore both its Mexican roots and its abiding appeal. … [Chili gravy] transformed the taste of [antojitos] and, when it was done well, added a layer of lusty intensity.”

This cookbook offers a lot more than recipes for antojitos (Mexican snacks and street foods like tacos, tamales, and gorditas), but it recognizes and respects their centrality to border cuisine. “They are not the essence of Mexican food anywhere, but they are a proper part of the soul in the Hispanic borderlands.”

With that, along with what appears to be a very solid collection of recipes, they join Robb Walsh and Marilyn Tausend on my short list of food writers who appreciate Tex-Mex and the border’s other hybrid cuisines on their own merits.

Tausend’s book Cocina de la familia explores how Mexican Americans cook in our own kitchens, and what influences affect the recipes they use. I think she would love the way Joumana of Taste of Beirut is mixing Lebanese and Mexican ideas in her cooking. Check out her Lebanese Nachos and Chiles Rellenos with Roasted Green Wheat. (Thanks to Notions Capital‘s occasional round-up of Blogs with Bite for the tip.)

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