¡Ask A Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
Dear Beaner: Gracias for showing American that Mexis can be as meandering as gabachos. As to your question: shit, we’ve tried everything to Hispander to gabachos over the years. We gave them half of Mexico, we called ourselves “Spanish,” we considered ourselves white, we made amazing dishes that other gabachos turned into multi-million-dollar empires—and, still, they hate us. What to do? Not a single pinche thing: Mexicans in this country are no longer at a place where we have to grovel to anyone. If gabachos don’t want to accept that aquí estamos and we ain’t vamos, then they deserve the beautiful brown grandkids that are coming their way.
I noticed that my favorite candies are primarily made out of chile and tamarindo. I understand that chile is indigenous to the Americas, but tamarindo is not. I found that tamarindo originates from the Middle East and Africa. And through the slave trade and the dreadful European expansion, tamarindo found its delicious way to the Americas. What I don’t get is how and why tamarindo became so popular amongst nuestra gente? We consume mega-tons of it! We drink it, we make candy out it, I sometimes have dreams about it . . . ¿que onda?
—Pocho De Ocho
Dear Pocho: Actually, tamarind came to Mexico through the Manila galleons and has no Middle Eastern connection whatsoever—the Levantine’s contribution to Mexico’s fruit culture is granada (pomegranates) via the Spaniards via the Moors. But it was only by a brain pedo of God that tamarind isn’t native to Mexico, as no other culture save certain Hindus love it the way we do. It’s not much of a mystery: Mexicans love sweets with tropical verve and fleshiness, whether it’s mamey, mangoes, papayas, guanábana, tunas (the prickly pear) or boring-ass pineapple. But tamarind is the king of the jungle, because—as you pointed out—we can turn it into so many things: ice cream, fruit leather, salads, salsas, on chocolate, paletas and so much more. And when we pare it with chile (which we always do), it’s the greatest product of foreign-yet-similar cultures since the leprecano.