Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mexican food of all sorts

Pore ole El Paso has very little to recommend it, but the sunsets and the Mexican food are beyond compare. El Paso lies at the intersection of three culinary biotic provinces, Tex-Mex, New Mex-Mex, and Mex. Little nondescript joints down on an El Paso corner would be the greatest Mexican food in town in most of the U.S.
Beth Kracklauer, writing in Saveur mag:
This is border food, and in this far western elbow of Texas, at the state's intersection with New Mexico and "Old Mexico", as some people out this way refer to it, that means a very specific convergence of traditions. There's the hearty, rustic cuisine of the cattle ranches and wheat farms founded in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua when the Spanish still claimed this territory. There's the Texan penchant for living large—an extra ladleful of chile gravy on your scrambled eggs, a thick blanket of melted cheddar on your nachos. And there's the abundance of chiles grown in the fertile valley just over the New Mexico border, which are stuffed with cheese and then deep-fried to make chiles rellenos at the beginning of the season, when they're still green; later, once they're ripe and red, they're dried, pulverized, and simmered to make piquant chile colorado sauce. It all adds up to an honest, spicy, intensely flavorful cuisine that's at once earthy and bright, spare and effusive, Mexican and Texan, Southwestern and norteño—food that makes borders seem like nothing more than lines on a map.

Read all of Kracklauer's piece here.


Edith Ann said...

Once upon a time, I could eat Mexican food almost every day. That was when Mexican food was pretty generic, and all the restaurants tasted the same.

With the explosion of Mexican food places we have seen in Victoria, we now have Jalisco regional, Guadalajara regional, etc., and, assuming it is all fairly authentic, they are all very different in flavor.

I am going to suspect Mexican food in El Paso is quite spicy.

In any event, I can only handle about 1 times a week these days.

UnrulyGurl said...

The new Mexican place in Seadrift has a dish that resembles the tacos I used to get from the taco stands of Guaymas, Mexico. That was a pleasant surprise.

Nothing beats traditional New Mexican food in my book though. I dream of enchiladas, burritos, stuffed sopaipillas smothered in green or red chile sauce.

I cringe when I hear the term "chile gravy". Deep down I acknowledge that it is a gravy, but I prefer the more comforting term sauce.

The Loon said...

UG - Yeah, 'chile gravy' worries me; I associate it with bad Tex-Mex, which is as bad as food gets. And things are best where they do 'red or green' and 'stacked or rolled' for enchiladas, and sometimes put a fried egg on top. I'm really pleased with the new joint here. Sell your El Comal stock, El Mexicano will put them out of business. Never been to Guaymas but had some great fish tacos in Mazatlán … they cooked some kinda mackerel over coals. Been wondering if the new joint is open Sun night.
Edith Ann - Early training is key here. Start your children on mild doses of chile at about four years of age and work up to