Houston loves its Tex-Mex. Scratch that. Texas loves its Tex-Mex.
There’s nothing more satisfying than fajitas, enchiladas, tacos or quesadillas. With melted cheese, spicy peppers, chile con queso dip, and fresh salsa, Tex-Mex is the food hero we all need and deserve.
That’s why people are so confused about a recent opinion piece in The Daily Texan. In response to the 65th anniversary of celebrated Austin Tex-Mex restaurant Matt’s El Rancho, Aubrey Larcher, a food traitor, called Tex-Mex a “white-trash snack food wearing an inauthentic Mexican mask” that is “distinguishably disgusting.” (The Daily Texan has since edited out “white trash.”)
Larcher, who thinks that Texans should shift their focus to Czech and Central European cuisine, argues that Tex-Mex is gross because it uses subpar meat disguised with salsa and cheese, the cheese looks like melted velveeta, and the main ingredients, such as beans and rice, are flavorless. Um…what?
Katie Walsh published the perfect clap-back article on the website of Robb Walsh, noted food critic and owner of El Real Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston.
Walsh points out that while Tex-Mex may not be considered authentic Mexican food, it is authentic to Texas, dating back to the 1700s during the Spanish missions era. As Tejanos learned the Spanish farming practices, they were able to create the ranch-style farming culture for which Texas is famous.
Tex-Mex grew out of this long tradition of the Tejano and is now ingrained in our culture. To deny Tex-Mex, Walsh argues, is to deny Mexican-Americans their place in food history.
Walsh sums up her argument with this quote from writer Jesse Sanchez:
Tex-Mex is important to us because it’s our bond to Mexico, even for us born in the United States. And it’s just Mexican food to us. Are we less Mexican or Mexican-American because we are Tejanos? We consider ourselves all part of the ‘Mexican food’ family and are surprised to hear when people speak of our food—or us—with disdain. The critiques sound elitist to us, and that says a lot coming from a state where we claim everything is bigger and better.
Everything is bigger and better in Texas, and that’s why people all over the country want delicious Tex-Mex food. Good Tex-Mex is one of the best parts about Texas, and we plan to keep it that way.