Thursday, December 15, 2011
TexMex and MexiCali: What’s the Difference?
In the world of Mexican food there's far more than just "Mexican food," and there's far more categories than just "real Mexican food" and "TexMex." There's many regional differences in food within the country of Mexico itself and there's also differences in the Mexican food found within various states in the United States. Here is a guest post from Carolyn K. about the differences between TexMex and MexiCali food:
Visitors of California and Texas may not see a distinct difference between the Mexican cuisine of California and Texas. However, the different regions emphasize distinct ingredients and staples. Comparing the weekly meal plan of Texas to that of California, you may find wildly different variations and flavors. Here, we compare the two cuisines so that next time you visit these regions, you can enjoy the individuality of each.
If you’re a visitor to L.A., the first thing you’ll notice is the wonderful loyalty to central Mexican cuisine, which can be seen in L.A.’s emphasis on mole, ceviche, and clayuda. L.A. even celebrates it’s love for mole in the “Feria de los Moles” street fair (showcased in a post on September 29th, 2011). However, in Texas, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that loyally adheres to central Mexican food and delivers an exceptional product. Most Tex Mex originates from Monterrey, a cattle-rich region, making Texas’ take on Mexican more beef-based and loaded with cheese. But Texans did not simply import the meat-intensive Mexican food but, rather, changed it based on regional tastes. The Monterrey-Mexican emphasis on meat was further intensified by the settlement of the Germans, who founded cities like New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. German butchers often used every part of the pig to make their food.
While tacos differ significantly from Texas to California, for both regions the taco is a sacred Mexican staple. In Cali, tacos are usually made from soft, smaller corn tortillas filled with some sort of meat, onions, cilantro, and salsa for spice. Carnitas, cecina, barbacoa, al pastor, lengua, and carne asada are all popular choices. Again, we see the Mexican influence with plates like al pastor, which was taken from street vendors in Mexico who would assemble the meat on a rolling pole, then hack it off and throw it into corn tortillas. While al pastor can be enjoyed in Texas as well, in the Lone-Star State most people prefer to eat their tacos at the crack of dawn. Breakfast tacos are so popular in Texas that most establishments serve them all day, around the clock. Huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and migas served on soft, fluffy flour tortillas dominate the palates of Texas natives.
While both California and Texan cuisines have been strongly influenced by the many spices and flavors of Mexican food, both cultures have mixed the plates of Mexico with their own geographic characteristics, making wonderfully unique Mexican-American comida mezclada.