the borders of Tex-Mex

Both J-P and Glenn mentioned that they think that the reasons behind Tex-Mex-bashing vary by region within the US. They’re probably right, and I think the best evidence of my very parochial experience of the phenomenon is the set Americanized-Mexican recipes that sometimes get called “Tex-Mex” but that I don’t even recognize.

Robb Walsh’s Tex-Mex Cookbook has two recipes for cornmeal tamales, and says that this style of tamales are often served in waxed paper rather than corn husks. I have never seen–and would never have thought of–either of those substitutions. His tamale pie recipe uses cornbread, and he also says that most canned tamales are made with cornmeal. I’ve seen pictures of both of these things but never tasted them. And it never occurred to me that they didn’t use masa.

The funniest of these cross-cultural encounters happened when I first met J-P’s dad and stepmother. On the menu: Mexican stew. It was basically the ground beef filling for the crispy tacos we all remember and love from our childhoods, but in stew form. Over elbow mac, if I recall correctly. To me, it was what my dad meant when he made “goulash”–Hungarians being as foreign to Texas and Mexicans to New Jersey.


5 Responses to “the borders of Tex-Mex”

  1. May 31, 2010 at 10:53

    Bastardizing other people’ cuisine is something that the whole world enjoys it seems! It used to get me mad and than I figured there was nothing I could do so, go with the flow and forget it!

  2. May 31, 2010 at 11:34

    I used to eat canned tamales all the time.
    They were wrapped in wax paper, in sauce, in the can.
    I have never seen this in real life tamales, but I am just half-assed all-Californian Mex-Mex.

  3. May 31, 2010 at 11:34

    And I am pretty sure this is something my mother originally brought home that I continued to eat until sometime in my 20s. She’s not much of a cook.

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