General Question

WhatThaF's avatar

Is it true that "TexMex" food butchers the authenticity of Mexican food?

Asked by WhatThaF (168points) May 27th, 2009 from iPhone

I know what you’re sayin’.. “This is not what I call Mexican food!?”—Cuz they call it TexMex. Fake Mexican food.. butchering and switchin’ up recipes.. Can someone please explain why? Is TexMex considered a TYPE of Mexican food? ..because you know YorkMex or WisconMex do not exist. Why is this so? and who invented this word?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

39 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s still good. Just not Mexican.

_bob's avatar

It’s not a “type” of Mexican food. It has some elements of it, but that’s that.

arturodiaz's avatar

what is TexMex?

alive's avatar

TexMex sucks. Mexican is delicious! and New Mexican food is aaaawwwesome!!!!

YARNLADY's avatar

I find that there are many different kinds of Mexican food. TexMex is more of a ‘desert Indian’ type of Mexican food, where they have very few vegetables and little or no fish or meat.

Mountain Mexican food is much more varied, with a variety of vegetables and meats. Coastal Mexican food has the widest variety of receipes with fish, meats and vegetables.

alive's avatar

texmex is the americanized version of mexican food.

arturodiaz's avatar

I get it now, texmex is just the food Chicanos eat. Is like mexican food but with american ingredients. Also adapted to the american taste. No, is not mexican food. burritos are not mexican food either. Burros Percherones, that is food for men! and really hungry women too :P

alive's avatar

no. texmex is the food gringos eat and think it is mexican food. sort of like taco bell.

chicanos usually eat mexican food since they are mexicans in america.

Dr_C's avatar

It is neither good nor mexican. @arturodiaz hit it on the head… Percherones are awesome.
Soft tacos are not mexican food… anything you can buy in Taco Bell is not mexican food.. same for any other Tex-Mex chain in the US…

alive's avatar

burritos are an example of texmex because they are a food that developed in southern texas/northern mexico. burritos are like “border food” which is like texmex

lillycoyote's avatar

Texmex is Texmex, Mexican food is Mexican food. They are not the same thing. Not to be compared. And Taco Bell is not Texmex, it is just bad chain food. Have you ever actually eaten non-chain Texmex in Texas?

essieness's avatar

I live in a fairly small town with entirely too many texmex restaurants. I’ve eaten enough chips & salsa and enchiladas to last a lifetime. I’m over it! Real Mexican food for me please.

Dr_C's avatar

@alive border food is not tex-mex

i dare you to eat in Tijuana and call the food tex mex without getting thrown out of the establishment.

Dr_C's avatar

@essieness i offered to cook for you but you insist on making me jealous with Cesar… i can do no more!

kheredia's avatar

Tex Mex has all kinds of stuff that’s pretty much unique to them. There’s also Tex Mex music and Radio. They just kind of started their own little culture. I don’t really care for tex mex food, I need my real Mexican food, you know the kind that really does have some spice in it??

lillycoyote's avatar

@WhatThaF There is a Czech-Mex place in Corpus Christi, and no, it’s not YorkMex or WisconMex but… well, what was your point with that anyway?

essieness's avatar

@dr_c LOL he hasn’t cooked for me yet so you still have a chance! I made some amazing homemade salsa the other day that even he gave the thumbs up to!

YARNLADY's avatar

@bob_ thanks for the link

alive's avatar

@Dr_C i said burritos. and trust me having lived in TJ i know about the best fish tacos in the world. they are NOT texmex!

funkdaddy's avatar

Good food is good food, TexMex can be really tasty.

Check out Chuy’s sometime when you’re in Texas. There’s tastiness throughout.

As far as Taco Bell relating in any way to TexMex, that’s like trying to call Pizza Hut “New York Style Pizza” or Panda Express “Chinese Food”... it’s just cheap fast food. Taco Bell doesn’t claim to be TexMex.

I always wonder why folks try to classify “real” Mexican food so narrowly. Have you seen a map of Mexico? It’s huge and varied with different cultures and customs throughout. The food also varies greatly depending on what’s available, traditional, and popular. The tacos someone got off a cart in that border town aren’t the only Mexican food out there.

Stop the madness, spread burrito love.


alive's avatar

just to clarify on the taco bell comment. i was not trying to say that taco bell is texmex, i was trying to explain (to arturo) that texmex is a white/american version of mexican food, and so is taco bell. but taco bell is not a version of texmex. they are both gringo versions of mexican food, 2 different versions.

there are texmex places that are good texmex but its still texmex (saddo)

oratio's avatar

Does american pan pizza butcher the authenticity of Italian food?

WhatThaF's avatar

@oratio yes. lol.

THANKS everybody! Great answers.

Darwin's avatar

@lillycoyote – Hey don’t knock one of our favorite restaurants! Corpus Christi belonged to Mexico for a long time, and was settled by European Catholics of various persuasions, including Czechs. The Czech-Mex Bakery (and deli) makes really great pan dulce and terrific kolaches.

@everybody: And Taco Bell isn’t TexMex – the founder is a non-Hispanic from California named Glen Bell. If anything it is Cali-Mex food (headquartered now in Louisville, Kentucky of all places). Don’t blame Texas for that one!

As to the validity of TexMex food – Texas has been home to people of Mexican ancestry, Mexican affiliation and Mexican citizenship for several hundred years. Just as in Mexico proper regional cuisine developed. The folks in some parts of Mexico swear by black beans cooked with epazote, while those in other areas eat only pinto beans or a similar item. Some traditional Mexican cuisines also include insects.

Take a look at Diana Kennedy’s cook books to see the five main culinary regions of Mexico defined. Then add in the regional cuisines of Texas, New Mexico (red or green?) and California and you have a total of 8 regional cuisines that relate to Mexican culture.

“El Patio” and TacoBell are not TexMex.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Now I’m all hungry!

Strauss's avatar

TexMex is a regional variation of Mexican food. Remember, it didn’t cross the border, the border crossed it!

YARNLADY's avatar

@Yetanotheruser haha I hadn’t heard that before

Darwin's avatar

@Yetanotheruser is quite right. The border did cross it, and it even crossed back again in a section of El Paso/Juarez.

alive's avatar

@Darwin (i don’t really care all that much but i feel the need to say this)

prior to the US-mexican war, texas was not very populated under the mexican government (there were some mexicans, but it was a lot of indian land). so mexico opened their border offering cheap land to americans who wanted to settle the area. but soon the mexicans were out numbered 10 to 1 in texas. mexico’s government was not centralized at the time so texans goverened themselves. then as we know texas to california was taken in the war. so yes texas does have mexican influence, but historically it has been populated and goverened by americans.

Darwin's avatar

@alive – Actually it wasn’t populated and governed by Americans. It governed first by the Catholic church in the form of the various missions, and by military representatives from Spain and then later Mexico, in large part to make sure the French couldn’t claim it.

Next it was populated by Catholics brought in from Europe by empresarios (1821 to 1830). The ones in my particular area were Irish and so brought Irish Catholics and named their town San Patricio (Saint Patrick). German Catholics were brought into parts of the Hill Country (Fredricksburg), as were English Catholics (Austin area), Polish Catholics (Panna Maria), and French Catholics (Castroville). Many other empresarios were granted the rights to bring in other groups of Catholics from various other parts of Europe. Some were less successful than McGloin, Henri Castro, and Stephen F. Austin but some were equally so.

The idea was that because the American government was basically a Protestant one, and the Mexican government was a Catholic one, Catholic settlers would side with Mexico. However, instead of siding with Mexico they sided with the Texicans (the folks that brought us the Republic of Texas) because they were granted land by Texas first in return for helping to fight Mexico.

During Mexican ownership of Texas, Americans were not gratefully accepted into Mexican Texas at all. In fact, they were banned outright in 1830. Besides, most of them only came for the horses, which they rounded up from places like the Wild Horse Desert (today called the Nueces and Rio Grande river valleys), or to try to talk folks out of being Catholic.

When Texas realized it couldn’t keep on being an independent republic with the US to the north and Mexico to the south, it opted to go with the US, provided the Texas government be pretty much kept intact and Texas be granted certain special provisions such as being able to divide into several states.

Mexico wasn’t willing to let Texas be so separate an entity, and considered Texas a rengade province deserving of punishment, not cultivation, so Texas and Texicans weren’t interested in siding with them. Not only was more land offered to anyone who would fight for the Americans, the Texicans were going to be accepted into the US as regular citizens, not as creole, half-breed, foreign peons who needed to be controlled by the church and the military.

Once Texas became independent of Mexico, the phrase “G.T.T.” began to show up on abandoned houses throughout the southern US, standing for “Gone To Texas,” generally in order to dodge debt collectors or other misfortunes.

You may be confusing two different wars, the War for Texas Independence (as in “Remember the Alamo!,” October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836) and then 10 years later, the US-Mexican War (1846 to 1848), when Zachary Taylor came down to teach Mexico a lesson.

alive's avatar

US-Mexican War

You are right that Mexico was ruled by Spainish who were catholic. But once Mexico gained its independence, Mexico wanted development but was a young nation that did not have the means, so in 1823 they offered cheap land, deferred taxes and Mexican citizenship to Americans who would come settle the sparsely populated Texas.

Many Americans jumped at the chance. Soon Americans outnumber Mexicans 10 to 1 in Texas. Tensions grew between Mexico and its formerly welcomed settlers. Mexico tried to close its border, but did not have a strong army so Americans continued to come without permission. People like Stephen Austin who were Americans that went to Texas and then got pissed when Mexico centralized the government, so the Americans in Texas fought to be annexed into the United States and President James K. Polk was in favor of the annexation. The Mexican government took this to be an insult because they had formerly welcomed the Americans, the Mex gov did not recognize the annexation… Cut to war.

my point is that historically the american influence in texas has been stronger than the mexican one, this might have played a role in the creation of “texmex” (the american version of mexican food).

Darwin's avatar

I don’t know where they got the 10 to 1 number – that was never there. It was 2 to 1 at best. Frequently censuses put together after Texas was annexed by the US deliberately left out people not of European ancestry and ignored the Mexican records stored in Coahuila. In 1806 the population was made up of Spaniards, creoles, and a few French, Americans, slaves, civilized Indians, and half-breeds, for a total of about 7000 people, but somehow only the Spanish, Americans and French were generally counted. They numbered about 3500, so about half the population was always left out until modern scholars examined all the records.

In addition, many accounts refer to “Americans” when they should actually refer to “republicans.”

And Mexico offered land to all immigrants between 1824 and 1830, not just Americans, per the National Colonization Law of 1824. However, the law was written to be able to exclude Americans easily because of the phrase: “Until after the year 1840, the general congress shall not prohibit the entrance of any foreigner as a colonist, unless imperious circumstances should require it with respect to the individuals of a particular nation.” In 1830, Mexico closed the gate to Americans and in 1832 it passed yet another law that gave even greater inducement to Mexicans and non-Americans to settle. As a result, total population on the eve of the Texas Revolution in 1835 was about 35,000 people.

And Stephen F. Austin, whether you like it or not, was an empresario (An empresario was an agent who received a land grant from the Spanish or Mexican government in return for organizing settlements). His original grant was from Spain. When Mexico broke away from Spain Austin was able to transfer the grant and thereby keep it by registering it in the name of his father, Moses. He didn’t get “pissed” as you so elegantly put it. Instead he fought to keep his grant and succeeded.

Historically, the Mexican influence in Texas has been much stronger than the American influence, particularly in South, West and Central Texas. Not so with the panhandle or the Dallas area, but the entire rest of the state. Texicans as they called themselves actually wanted to be free from both the US and Mexico. They opted to be annexed by the US eventually primarily because the US would let it continue to be Texas, government and traditions intact, while Mexico wanted it to be just another province. That is in part why so many settlers actually came to Texas by ship, arriving in Galveston, which was the legal port of entry to the Republic of Texas.

However, because history books have rarely been written by the people of Mexican descent in Texas (and New Mexico), the role of the Mexican people living in the area has been downplayed until fairly recently. Over the past 20 years or so, the Spanish-language archives of legal documents, diaries, journals, and so on have been gradually being translated into English and modern Spanish and made accessible to the people who now are writing the history books.

And TexMex, true TexMex, is actually more closely related to the food of the Mexican state most closely adjacent to it, in large part because that is where the people came from who cook it. Tex-Mex is not ranch-hand chow, which is related to all sorts of influences, including American, Chinese (some of the cooks were Chinese), Polish, German, Czech and what was customary trail food of the day such as biscuits, gravy, steak, eggs, kielbasa-type sausage, brisket and beans.

Tex-Mex is a variant of Mexican food, not American food, just as the language of that name is a variant of Spanish, not English. And Taco Bell is not Tex-Mex.

And just to shake you up even further, Southern Texas was historically sheep country and horse country, not cattle country, and was the largest exporter of wool for military uniforms throughout most of the 1800’s. At least until some wealthy and politically connected cattle ranchers got laws passed that made it impossible to continue raising sheep.

BTW, I live in Texas and was a museum curator deeply involved in creating exhibits on Texas history for two decades. I am also a cook.

_bob's avatar

@Darwin How about some quesadillas?

Strauss's avatar

And we haven’t even gotten to the part how the best traditional music from Texas (conjunto or Nortena music) as well as Texas beer (e.g., Shiner Brewery) actually have heavy German influences.

food – culture – politics – music – It’s all related!

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m loving the conversation between @Darwin and @alive
I think the whole premise of the question is off base. TexMex is it’s own brand of food, which is exactly what it says it is. The relationship to Mexican food is there, after the reference to Tex. It’s not ‘Mexican food, Texas style’, but rather ‘Texas food with a nod to Mexican style’.

Palindrome's avatar

Tex-Mex food is good.
I don’t know if anyone on fluther is familiar with the restaurant Glorias, but they have many locations across North Texas. Their food is like Tex-Mex/Salvadorian food, it’s soo AMAZING. The food is just awesome. I think that Tex-Mex food doesn’t butcher authentic Mexican food because theirs just a variety to the taste. It’s just Mexican food, with a Texas Southern twist to it.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t think it’s ruining it, just making a different version of it.

Haleth's avatar

What Yarnlady said is pretty much what I was going to say. It seems like Mexican food uses fresher ingredients, and tex-mex is more of an American comfort food with some mexican flavor. Tex-mex is known for using a lot of cheese and sauce. This article argues that the classic cheese for tex-mex is velveeta, and it does a good job of making the distinction between the two different types of food.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther