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Food historians tell us Tex-Mex cuisine originated hundreds of years ago when Spanish/Mexican recipes combined with Anglo fare. TexMex, as we Americans know it today, is a twentieth century phenomenon. Dictionaries and food history sources confirm the first print evidence of the term "Tex Mex" occured in the 1940s. Linguists remind us words are often used for several years before they appear in print. TexMex restaurants first surfaced ouside the southwest region in cities with large Mexican populations. The gourmet Tex Mex "fad" began in the 1970s. Diana Kennedy, noted Mexican culinary expert, is credited for elevating this common food to trendy fare. These foods appealed to the younger generation.
What is Tex- Mex? Tex-Mex food might be described as native foreign food, contradictory through that term may seem, It is native, for it does not exist elsewhere; it was born on this soil. But it is foreign in that its inspiration came from an alien cuisine; that it has never merged into the mainstream of American cooking and remains alive almost solely in the region where it originated.Eating in America, Waverly Root & Richard de Rochemont (William Morrow:New York) 1976 (p. 281)
1940... Tex-Mex. A combination of the words "Texan" and "Mexican," first printed in 1945, that refers to an adaptation of Mexican dishes by Texas cooks. It is difficult to be precise as to what distinguishes Tex-Mex from true Mexican food, except to say that the variety of the latter is wider and more regional, whereas throughout the state and, now, throughout the entire United States.Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 325)
1950... Mexican restaurants, whos popularity coincided with the arrival of large numbers of Mexican immigrants after 1950, have for the most part followed the from and style of what is called "Tex-Mex" food, and amalgam of Northern Mexican peasant food with Texas farm and cowboy fare. Chili, which some condsider Texas's state dish, was unknown in Mexico and derived from the ample use of beef in Texan cooking. "Refried beans" are a mistranslation of the Mexican dish frijoles refritos, which actually means well-fried beans...The combination platter of enchiladas, tacos, and tortillas became the unvarying standards of the Tex-Mex menu, while new dishes like chimichangas (supposedly invented in the the 1950s at El Charro restaurant in Tucson, Arizona) and nachos (supposedly first served at a consession at Dallas's State Fair of Texas in 1964...) were concocted to please the American palate....One Tex-Mex item that may someday rival the pizza as an extraordinarily successful ethnic dish is the fajita...introduced at Ninfa's in Houston on July 13, 1973, as tacos al carbon. No one knows when or where it acquired the name fajita, which means girdle' or'strip' in Spanish and refers to the skirt steak originally used in the preparation...Only in the last decade has refined, regional Mexican food taken a foot-hold in American cities, reflecting not only the tenets of Tex-Mex cookery by the cuisines of Mexico City, the Yucatan, and other regions with long standing culinary traditions.America Eats Out, John Mariani [William Morrow:New York] 1991 (p. 80-1)
1970... In the good old days, Texans went to "Mexican restaurants" and ate "Mexican food." Then in 1972, The Cuisines of Mexico, an influential cookbook by food authority Diana Kennedy, drew the line between authentic interior Mexican food and the "mixed plates" we ate at "so-called Mexican restaurants" in the United States. Kennedy and her friends in the food community began referring to Americanized Mexican food as "Tex-Mex," a term previously used to describe anything that was half-Texan and half-Mexican. Texas-Mexican restaurant owners considered it an insult. By a strange twist of fate, the insult launched a success. For the rest of the world, "Tex-Mex" had an exciting ring. It evoked images of cantinas, cowboys and the Wild West. Dozens of Tex-Mex restaurants sprang up in Paris, and the trend spread across Europe and on to Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Abu Dhabi. Tortilla chips, margaritas and chili con carne are now well-known around the world. Houston Post, 6 part series, all online.
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1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 package taco seasoning mix
salt and pepper, to taste
light ranch dressing
tortilla chips, use as much as you like
In skillet, over medium heat, add ground beef, breaking meat up as it cooks, cook until no longer pink. Add onions, diced tomatoes with green chilies, tomato sauce and taco seasoning mix. Stir well. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Place tortilla chips on dinner plate, then add meat mixture, cheese, cole slaw, add additional cheese and drizzle light ranch dressing. Enjoy!
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