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What I’m Reading: Meghan McCarron, “The Myth of Authenticity is Killing Tex-Mex”

Here's an old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 6 years ago, in 2018, on the World Wide Web.

Shared Article from Eater

The Myth of Authenticity Is Killing Tex-Mex

EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT TEX-MEX IS WRONG: Texans will spend hours on a weekend lining up for barbecue, but Tex-Mex is what they're eating for…

Meghan McCarron @ eater.com

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.

(Hat tip Roderick Long.)

See also.

  1. [1]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.
  2. [2]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.

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