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Tex-Mex cuisine

Tex-Mex cuisine

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"Tex-Mex" is a term used to describe a regional American cuisine
Cuisine of the United States
American cuisine is a style of food preparation originating from the United States of America. European colonization of the Americas yielded the introduction of a number of ingredients and cooking styles to the latter...

 that blends food products available in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the culinary creations of Mexican-Americans influenced by the cuisines of Mexico
Mexican cuisine
Mexican cuisine, a style of food that originates in Mexico, is known for its varied flavors, colourful decoration and variety of spices and ingredients, most of which are native to the country. The cuisine of Mexico has evolved through thousands of years of blending indigenous cultures, with later...

. The cuisine has spread from border states such as Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and those in the Southwestern United States
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

 to the rest of the country. Tex-Mex is most popular in the southern state
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. Tex-Mex is very different from the southwest cuisine
Cuisine of the Southwestern United States
The Cuisine of the Southwestern United States is food styled after the rustic cooking of the Southwestern United States. It is also known to be very popular in the west coast state of California...

 found in Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, and Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

. In these areas, the preferred southwest cuisine is New Mexican cuisine
New Mexican cuisine
New Mexican cuisine is a regional cuisine found in New Mexico, reflecting the regional climate and long history as part of the Native American, Mexican, Spanish and United States cultures. This form of southwest cuisine is most popular in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and California...

. The southwestern state of Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 and West Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 state of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 tend to lie in the middle as far the preferred style of Mexican-American food. In some places, particularly outside of Texas, "Tex-Mex" is used to describe a localized version of Mexican cuisine. It is common for all of these foods to be referred to as "Mexican food" in Texas, parts of the United States, and some other countries. In other ways it is Southern cooking using the commodities from Mexican culture. In many parts of the U.S. outside of Texas the term is synonymous with Southwestern cuisine
Cuisine of the Southwestern United States
The Cuisine of the Southwestern United States is food styled after the rustic cooking of the Southwestern United States. It is also known to be very popular in the west coast state of California...

.

Some ingredient
Ingredient
An ingredient is a substance that forms part of a mixture . For example, in cooking, recipes specify which ingredients are used to prepare a specific dish. Many commercial products contain a secret ingredient that is purported to make them better than competing products...

s are common in Mexican cuisine, but other ingredients not typically used in Mexico are often added. Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of melted cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

, meat
Meat
Meat is animal flesh that is used as food. Most often, this means the skeletal muscle and associated fat and other tissues, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as organs and offal...

 (particularly beef
Beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

), bean
Bean
Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae used for human food or animal feed....

s, and spice
Spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

s, in addition to Mexican-style tortillas. Texas-style chili con carne
Chili con carne
Chili con carne is a spicy stew. The name of the dish derives from the Spanish chile con carne, "chili pepper with meat". Traditional versions are made, minimally, from chili peppers, garlic, onions, and cumin, along with chopped or ground beef. Beans and tomatoes are frequently included...

, chili con queso
Chili con queso
Chile con queso , usually known simply as queso, is an appetizer or side dish of melted cheese and chile pepper typically served in Tex-Mex restaurants.- Background :...

, nachos
Nachos
Nachos are a popular food based on nixtamalized corn, of Mexican origin associated with Tex-Mex cuisine that can be either made quickly to serve as a snack or prepared with more ingredients to make a full meal. In their simplest form, nachos are tortilla chips or totopos covered in melted cheese...

, chili gravy, and fajita
Fajita
A fajita is a term found in both traditional Mexican cuisine and in Tex-Mex cuisine, commonly referring to any grilled meat served on a flour or corn tortilla. The term originally referred to the cut of beef used in the dish which is known as skirt steak. Popular meats today also include chicken,...

s are all Tex-Mex inventions. A common feature of Tex-Mex is the combination plate
Plate (dishware)
A plate is a broad, concave, but mainly flat vessel on which food can be served. A plate can also be used for ceremonial or decorative purposes.-Materials:...

, with several of the above on one large platter
Platter (dishware)
A platter is a large type of dishware used for serving food. It is a tray on which food is displayed and served to people. It can have oval, round, rectangular, or square shape. It can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. Plain and ornate platters suitable for more formal settings or occasions...

. Serving tortilla chip
Tortilla chip
A tortilla chip is a snack food made from corn tortillas, which are cut into wedges and then fried . Corn tortillas are made of corn, vegetable oil, salt and water. Although first mass-produced in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, tortilla chips are considered to be a Mexican food, known as tostados...

s and a hot sauce
Hot sauce
Hot sauce, chili sauce or pepper sauce refers to any spicy sauce made from chili peppers and other ingredients.-Ingredients:There are many recipes for hot sauces - the common ingredient being any kind of peppers. A group of chemicals called capsaicinoids are responsible for the heat in chili peppers...

 or salsa
Salsa (sauce)
Salsa may refer to any type of sauce. In American English, it usually refers to the spicy, often tomato based, hot sauces typical of Mexican and Central American cuisine, particularly those used as dips. In British English, the word typically refers to salsa cruda, which is common in Mexican ,...

 as an appetizer is common in Tex-Mex restaurants. Moreover, Tex-Mex has imported flavors from other spicy cuisines, such as the use of cumin
Cumin
Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to India. Its seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form.-Etymology:...

 (common in Indian food
Indian cuisine
Indian cuisine consists of thousands of regional cuisines which date back thousands of years. The dishes of India are characterised by the extensive use of various Indian spices, herbs, vegetables and fruit. Indian cuisine is also known for the widespread practice of vegetarianism in Indian society...

, but used in only a few Central Mexican recipes).

History



The word "Tex-Mex" first entered the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as a nickname
Nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

 for the Texas Mexican Railway
Texas Mexican Railway
The Texas Mexican Railway is a class 1 railroad that operates as a subsidiary of Kansas City Southern Railway in Texas. It is often referred to as the Tex-Mex, or TexMex Railway....

, charter
Charter
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified...

ed in southern Texas in 1875.

In train schedules published in the newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s of the 1800s the names of railroads were abbreviated. The Missouri Pacific was called the Mo. Pac. and the Texas-Mexican was abbreviated Tex. Mex. In the 1920s, the hyphen
Hyphen
The hyphen is a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation. The hyphen should not be confused with dashes , which are longer and have different uses, or with the minus sign which is also longer...

ated form was used in American newspapers in reference to the railroad and to describe people of Mexican descent who were born in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

.

In the mission era
Spanish missions in Texas
The Spanish Missions in Texas comprise a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholic Dominicans, Jesuits, and Franciscans to spread the Christian doctrine among the local Native Americans, but with the added benefit of giving Spain a toehold in the frontier land. The missions...

, Spanish cuisine
Spanish cuisine
Spanish cuisine consists of a variety of dishes, which stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters that surround the country, and reflects the country's deep maritime roots...

 and Mexican cuisine
Mexican cuisine
Mexican cuisine, a style of food that originates in Mexico, is known for its varied flavors, colourful decoration and variety of spices and ingredients, most of which are native to the country. The cuisine of Mexico has evolved through thousands of years of blending indigenous cultures, with later...

 was combined in Texas as in other parts of the Northern Frontier of New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

. However, the cuisine that would come to be called Tex-Mex actually originated with Tejano
Tejano
Tejano or Texano is a term used to identify a Texan of Mexican heritage.Historically, the Spanish term Tejano has been used to identify different groups of people...

s (Texans of Mexican
Mexican people
Mexican people refers to all persons from Mexico, a multiethnic country in North America, and/or who identify with the Mexican cultural and/or national identity....

 descent) as a mix of native Mexican and Spanish foods when Texas was part of New Spain and later Mexico.

From the South Texas
South Texas
South Texas is a region of the U.S. state of Texas that lies roughly south of and including San Antonio. The southern and western boundary is the Rio Grande River, and to the east it is the Gulf of Mexico. The population of this region is about 3.7 million. The southern portion of this region is...

 region between San Antonio and El Paso
El Paso
El Paso, a city in the U.S. state of Texas, on the border with Mexico.El Paso may also refer to:-Geography:Colombia:* El Paso, CesarSpain:*El Paso, Santa Cruz de TenerifeUnited States:...

, this cuisine has had little variation, and from earliest times has always been influenced by the cooking in the neighboring northern states of Mexico. The ranch
Ranch
A ranch is an area of landscape, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in the western United States and Canada, though...

ing culture of South Texas and northern Mexico straddles both sides of the border. A taste for cabrito (kid goat
Goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

), barbacoa
Barbacoa
Barbacoa is a form of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean with the Taíno people, from which the term "barbecue" derives. In contemporary Mexico it generally refers to meats or a whole sheep slow-cooked over an open fire, or more traditionally, in a hole dug in the ground covered with...

de cabeza
Cabeza
Cabeza, sometimes cabeça, is a Spanish word meaning "head". In Mexican cuisine, it is used to describe the meat from a roasted head of a cow, served as a taco or burrito filling....

(barbecued beef heads), carne seca
Carne seca
Carne seca by meaning is dehydrated beef in Spanish and Portuguese, but the preparation methods and marinating recipes are very different from that of what is normally known in the United States as Beef Jerky....

(dried beef), and other products of cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 culture is common on both sides of the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

. In the 20th century, Tex-Mex took on such Americanized elements such as yellow cheese, as goods from the United States became cheap and readily available.

A 1968 Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

piece claimed "[i]f the dish is a combination of Old World cooking, hush-my-mouth Southern cuisine and Tex-Mex, it's from the Texas Hill Country."

The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

supplies the first-known uses in print of "Tex-Mex" in reference to food, from a 1963 article in the New York Times Magazine, and a 1966 item in the Great Bend (Kansas) Tribune. Diana Kennedy
Diana Kennedy
Diana Kennedy is an author and authority on Mexican cooking. A native of the United Kingdom, she moved to Mexico in 1957 with her husband, Paul Kennedy, who was a correspondent for the New York Times. She has been called the "Julia Child of Mexican Cuisine" and has spent 45 years traveling...

, an influential food authority, explained the distinctions between Mexican cuisine
Mexican cuisine
Mexican cuisine, a style of food that originates in Mexico, is known for its varied flavors, colourful decoration and variety of spices and ingredients, most of which are native to the country. The cuisine of Mexico has evolved through thousands of years of blending indigenous cultures, with later...

 and Americanized Mexican food in her 1972 book The Cuisines of Mexico. Robb Walsh of the Houston Press
Houston Press
The Houston Press is an alternative weekly newspaper published in Houston, Texas, United States. It is headquartered in Downtown Houston....

said the book "was a breakthrough cookbook, one that could have been written only by a non-Mexican. It unified Mexican cooking by transcending the nation's class divisions and treating the food of the poor with the same respect as the food of the upper classes." Another early instance in print appeared in the Mexico City News in 1973.

Award-winning Texas food writer Robb Walsh (of the Houston Press) updated Kennedy and put her comments regarding Tex-Mex cooking into historical and sociopolitical perspective in The Tex-Mex Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos (New York: Broadway Books
Broadway Books
Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Random House, Inc., released its first list in Fall, 1996. Broadway Books has since published many New York Times bestsellers in hardcover and paperback, including Elizabeth Edwards’ memoir Resilience, Bill O’Reilly’s memoir A...

, 2004).

See also


  • Chili con queso
    Chili con queso
    Chile con queso , usually known simply as queso, is an appetizer or side dish of melted cheese and chile pepper typically served in Tex-Mex restaurants.- Background :...

  • Cuisine of the United States
    Cuisine of the United States
    American cuisine is a style of food preparation originating from the United States of America. European colonization of the Americas yielded the introduction of a number of ingredients and cooking styles to the latter...

  • Cuisine of Mexico
    Mexican cuisine
    Mexican cuisine, a style of food that originates in Mexico, is known for its varied flavors, colourful decoration and variety of spices and ingredients, most of which are native to the country. The cuisine of Mexico has evolved through thousands of years of blending indigenous cultures, with later...


External links