Sunday, July 29, 2007

Burrito Hall

The Mexican government puts its foot down: Enough with the goddamn chimichangas already!

Worried by the global proliferation of deep fat-fried chimichangas, fajitas, margaritas and fried ice-cream, the Mexican government is recruiting U.S. and Canadian restaurateurs to set the world straight on what is real Mexican food....

Officials, however, have their work cut out for them. Mexican food often is misunderstood, from Bahrain to Birmingham, Ala.

For example, the California-based Chevys[*] restaurant chain, which has locations in 15 U.S. states, offers "Classic Fresh Mex Combos" such as chimichangas - beef or chicken deep-fried in flour tortillas. The El Torito chain, also based in California, offers deep-fried ice cream on its "autentico" menu.

And Taco Bell's vision of Mexico is something entirely alien south of the border. When the fast-food chain tried to establish a presence in Mexico City in the 1990s, consumers were so perplexed by the "burritos" that a leading newspaper helpfully included a definition.

Traditional Mexican cuisine dates back 3,000 years to the Mayans, who based their diet on corn, beans and vegetables. Most Americans confuse Tex-Mex specialties such as chili, chimichangas, nachos and hard-shell tacos, often laden in processed cheese and sour cream, with real Mexican food. The same goes for Cal-Mex fusions, such as the burrito, which combines fresh vegetables, fish and even fruit-based salsas with rice and beans in a flour tortilla.

Few Mexicans have ever even seen or heard of such foods.

What Calderon & Co. should do is invest a couple hundred million in a chain of "Restaurantes Autenticos" to deliver genuine Mexican food to the masses: tripe, tongue stews, fried grasshoppers; corn fungus - y'know, the good stuff. None of this cheddar cheese bullshit. Trust me, Felipe, this is a slam dunk.

We were surpised to find fajitas on menus here, since we sort of assumed it was one of those fake-Mex creations (but "sizzlin'" - that's all Uncle Sam, baby! We're not even sure how to express the concept here. Chisporroteante, maybe?) Another surprise: margaritas. We were sure it were invented by New England WASPs as a way of pretending not to drink tequila. Turns out it's legit.

[*] Why doesn't Chevys have an apostrophe? It's merely the plural of Chevy?


The pedantic Mexfiles guy said...

Margaritas were indeed a Mexican invention, though the drink was named for an gringa ... at least that my story and I'm stickin' to it

Burro Hall said...

We gave them the margarita and took Texas off their hands. What more do these people want from us??