13 Dishes That Aren’t Mexican? Well…

I was inspired to post Buzzfeed’s 13 Dishes That Aren’t Actually Mexican to highlight a major part of what Meso is about. If you read the list, you’ll notice that a majority of these non-Mexican foods come from Texas, California, or another southwestern state. Now, these states of course are part of the United States, but before 1848 and the Mexican-American War, they were part of Mexico. Since then, the southwest has maintained a rich cultural tradition, combining elements of Mexican, Native American, and European cultures (don’t forget the Asian influences in California) and creating unique, regional recipes. At our Meso events we talk about the differences between Tex-Mex, New Mexican, and Californian-Mexican foods. They each have their particular flavors, but their existence is heavily tied to the strong traditions of Mexican cuisine.

The links between Mexican-American and Mexican food point out Buzzfeed’s ham-fisted definition of “Mexican” food. One of the things Meso is trying to explore is Mexican cuisine’s global influences. Gustavo Arellano (author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America), Rick Bayless, and Patricia Jinich (host of Pati’s Mexican Table) constantly talk about the French, Spanish, Jewish, and Native American influences that have inspired Mexican food, truly making it a global cuisine. If we want to nitpick, we could go back and claim many traditional Mexican dishes’ origins lie outside Mexico. And, the same could be said about some “classic” American foods like apple pie, hamburgers, or macaroni and cheese.

The point is, Meso is trying to explore the blurred lines between food and culture. Buzzfeed’s article scratches the surface (albeit lazily). It’s exciting (and delicious) to try and trace foods and recipes back to their progenitor. But, what we are uncovering more and more is that it’s not so easy to find just one, and it’s pretty messy. Just like cooking.

-Danny

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Meso’s Reads

Below are a few articles we’ve read this week:

Here is an 2009 NPR article discussing Gustavo Arellano’s book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. Arellano’s book has definitely inspired us!

A NYTimes  article from 2009 about Patricia Jinich – from the television show Pati’s Mexican Table – discusses her Jewish-Mexican background and her evolution as a cook. Check out Pati’s website for some delicious recipes and cooking tips. We especially like her blog posts breaking down the basics of Mexican food.

And finally, have a look at NPR’s Code Switch Blog where guest blogger Alex Schmidt also talks about her experiences with Jewish-Latin cuisine. Her chicken soup recipe sounds like just the thing for the cold winter days we are having.