¡Ask a Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
In honor of this momentous occasion, we turn the columna over to comida.
Dear Mexican: Am I the only one that gets ticked off when I see all these food trucks riding around selling Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, etc., food when all I see when I look at the menu is Mexican food? They’ll mostly sell burritos, tacos, quesadillas, etc. All they do is change the fillings and don’t even give credit to Mexicans! For example . . . Kogi Korean BBQ? Why not call it Kogi Korean BBQ Tacos and Burritos or something like that? Even better: Kogi Mexican-Korean Food! Their whole menu revolves around Mexican food! I thought whites were the only ones that appropriate Mexican food when they try to claim chili (con carne) as their own. Now Koreans and others are getting into the act.
Dear Wab: What did Koreans ever do to you, güey? Did some hot-ass chinita reject you because her parents thought you were a cholo, damn your master’s degree (happened to the Mexican—true story!). If the luxe loncheras that now dominate America’s big metro regions really wanted to disappear the Mexican roots of their comida, they wouldn’t be serving burritos, tacos, or quesadillas—they’d call them “wraps,” “cornmeal pinchers” and “cheese turnovers,” respectively. Instead, all I ever see them do is change the first part of the name but keep the Mexi vessel—and Mexican food, like Mexis, are fundamentally malleable and no le vale madre about strict taxonomies. The only problem you should have with these luxe loncheras are the efforts by bureaucrats and wimpy brick-and-motor restaurant owners to shut down them and their Mexi hermanos—other than that, if you don’t like gabas going Mexi with their food, leave them to their $8 “gourmet” tacos and find the lonchera with the two-tacos-for-a-buck and a free drink.
So various regions of the U.S. are known for specific styles of food. Cajun cuisine, Texas barbecue, New York or Chicago pizza, etc. Seeing as how Mexico is a pretty expansive nation as well, I wondered how wildly regional specialties might vary in different areas, and if you could name any tasty treats those regions claim to do best.
—Looking For More Than a Combo Plate
Dear Gabacho: Space doesn’t permit the Mexican to list the multitude of regional varieties of Mexican food in the motherland, so I’ll instead give a shoutout to my compa, Bill Esparza, a professional musician by trade who moonlights as America’s greatest expert on regional Mexican treats on his blog, Street Gourmet LA (www.streetgourmetla.com) This is a man who has been smuggling gabachos into Baja California to eat the dazzling food of that region long before Rick Bayless and his ilk knew the difference between aguachile and chile con carne. In the meanwhile, make sure to check out Taco USA for the many regional styles of Mexican food in this country, from Tex-Mex to Cal-Mex to Sonoran, New Mexican and . . . Den-Mex?! All in the book, cabrones—buy it!
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!