O.K., well, no it’s not, really. Tex-Mex is doing just fine, whether as a culinary scene, a commercial proposition, or a completely ubiquitous cultural contribution. But even if the myth isn’t killing nada, it’s still a dumb myth, and it is a reason why a lot of really good Mexican food (and really Mexican Mexican food, for whatever that matters) still sometimes gets undeservedly put down in the weird by-ways of covertly snobby food writing and everyday food talk. I do think that, despite the weird by-ways, on the whole, the understanding of Mexican food,
Tex-Mex etc. outside of Texas has gotten noticeably better in the last few years. Maybe someday soon this kind of article won’t be necessary. But it’ll still be pretty funny:
The future of Tex-Mex is, in many ways, as regional as the cuisine has always been, with approaches and ingredients and ideas traveling all over the state. All of it, however, is cradled in a tortilla. In 2017, Rayo pushed for another replacement for chili as Texas’s state food: the taco. The proposal made its way to state representative Gina Hinojosa, who authored a resolution celebrating the diversity of taco styles and fillings, the state’s love of both corn and flour tortillas, as well as the robust war over who invented the breakfast taco, as evidence the taco united all good things in Texas — even brisket.
Just as the chili resolution defined the Texas bowl of red as definitive, the taco resolution employs the requisite Texan swagger so rarely applied to the state’s infinite variety of Mexican food, stating: “One thing Texans can agree on is that, despite the availability of tacos in the other 49 states, the tastiest tacos can be found in the great State of Texas.” A state legislature dominated by a Republican party at war with itself, fixated on barring trans people from using public bathrooms and cracking down on cities seeking to protect immigrants, is not likely to enshrine the taco as the state’s official food. But doing so would both capture the 21st century zeitgest of the state, and fulfill one of Texas’s most cherished obsessions: pissing off California.
–Meghan McCarron, The Myth of Authenticity Is Killing Tex-Mex
Eater, 7 March 2018
It’s a noble goal.
- GT 2013-07-20: Authentic Mexican cuisine
- GT 2013-07-19: Food Beyond Borders
- GT 2008-07-05: Whiteness studies 103: Ethnic food and authenticity
- GT 2008-10-10: Whiteness studies 104: Class, cuisine, and authenticity
- GT 2014-04-16: Devour Borders
- GT 2016-09-05: On. Every. Corner.
- GT 2011-05-09: The only other known phenomenon of similar density is Four Dollar 40 Night at Babs’ in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- I’m not sure why it’s so hard to write an article to the effect that something just isn’t getting its due, but really, it is valuable and quite important, without then tacking on a bunch of weird additional claims about Crisis and Decline that aren’t obviously true.↩
- Partly this is the result of a lot of cultural trends that unsurprisingly accompany the demographic fact of increasingly ubiquitous Mexican-American populations spreading throughout the U.S. The strong trend of the last decade toward hipster spins on regional comfort foods has also helped, and so has the ever-surging stream of young urban professionals flowing through austin and its environs. Plus, you know, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, salsa, etc. are obviously fucken delicious.↩
Chinga la Migra en Tennessee
So imagine a broad new law, perhaps a constitutional amendment, which prohibits regulators from banning any product without substantial use externalities. Instead, imagine a single standard icon, perhaps a skull and crossbones, a dead cat, or a bigBAD, which saysWe regulators would have banned this product, except that’s not constitutional now. Don’t buy it.(Further imagine a small educational campaign to ensure that everyone understands this icon.)
With ideal regulators, this new label should convey as much information as banning would have, and so roughly rational consumers should be no worse off. If regulators are far from ideal, the worst that regulators can do is just waste their funding (since consumers can always ignore them). And in either case, consumer liberty would be expanded.
If consumer irrationality is the real issue here, then I sure wish ban advocates would describe their theory of consumer mistakes in more detail, so we could do some experiments to test those theories. It is also not clear why regulators should be more rational, or that irrational voters would support bans by regulators whose labels they wouldn’t believe.
–Robin Hanson, TheWould Have BannedLabel
June 19, 1996.
Of course, really laws are the wrong way to go about just about anything, and there’s no good reason why it should be any business of the law to make producers print
Banned In The Beltway tags on their products, at least not any more reason than they should be forced to print any other palooka’s opinions about their products. But, is there any solid, non-control-freak argument for thinking that this solution has any defects that would make it less desirable than the current prohibitionist approach to regulating low-quality products? If so, what’s the argument?