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Nov 5, 2007 10:45 AM

What is the difference between Mexican-American food and Mexican-Canadian food? [Moved from Canada board]

A friend and have been having this discussion regarding the way foods of particular ethnicities change when they pass into different countries. For example, Indian food in America is a poor shadow of Indian food in England (most definately due to England's imperialism).
My question then goes out to all of those people out there who have partaken of Mexican-American food and Mexican-Canadian food. Is there much of a difference? Is the Mexican food in Quebec different than Vancover? Or is Mexico far enough away, and Mexican immigration too low to make Mexican food in Canada anything more than a copy of it's US neighbor?


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  1. I can't say that I have noticed much difference, having eaten "Tex-Mex" in the U.S., Canada - and in Mexico, where it is widely appreciated, and not at all looked down on, although a close relative who spends much time in both New York City and Toronto insists that Herrnando's, on Yonge, is the best Tex-Mex restaurant he has ever tried in both cities. I can't say I wholeheartedly agree with him.

    Howvever, southern Ontatrio is getting a large number of agricultural workers from Mexico, to the extent that the Mexican Government has set up a Consulate among the tomato fields of Leamington, Ontario. Perhaps this will have a favourable effect on the amount and quality of Mexican food available here.

    1. I'll add England in here if I may, cheddar is usually used in Tex Mex cheese in the UK but in the US it's Jack or something like it.

      1. I've only been to Texas once, so I can't say too much about Tex-Mex, but in Toronto, "Mexican" food is a combination of ground beef, tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar cheese, and either a hard or soft shell. Sometimes, they throw in a little gaucamole. My Chinese wife thinks this bears as much relation to real Mexican cuisine as the places offering sweet and sour chicken balls do to Chinese cuisine.

        8 Replies
        1. re: KevinB

          Mexican-Canadian?....that's the first time I hear of this? What would make it Canadian? The Mexican I tried in Canada (Vancouver only) over the years (including this year) is a v. poor version of what is available in California and specifically places like Salinas or Santa Maria....

          1. re: Pollo

            Exactly. Canada has a huge variety of ethnic cuisines,but Mexican is simply not here, with very, very, very few exceptions- and those exceptions are NOT in Quebec, for heaven's sake.

            1. re: John Manzo

              =) I would argue Mexican cuisine barely exists here in the States... and just starting to find its stride.

                1. re: Pollo

                  Kind of.... I don't know about about the agricultural towns in between... but the Bay Area & L.A.... both have a ways to go... its hard to find real Fondas & regional specialties outside of a very small repetitive list of about 100 dishes that get recycled over & over again. L.A. has just started to get more regional cooking... but certainly not in any critical mass...

                  As Kare_Raisu is my witness... as I have "interviewed" Mexican diners at some of the most authentic eateries in Sonoma County... those 1st generation immigrants who came as adults... when asked where we can find the real cooking of their regions... always look sheepish & embarrassed when they respond... aqui puros tacos, birria y menudo... no se puede encontrar platillos de mi pueblo.... here there are only tacos, birria & menudo... you can't find the dishes from my town.

                  1. re: Pollo

                    I don't understand why you think they would replicate their native cuisine in a new area. Those folks stayed home. I see as many workers around here eating at chinese buffets
                    and hamburger stands as at taco trucks.

                    It's not Mexican food. It's Mexican-American food.
                    ....and Canadian-Mexican food.

                2. re: John Manzo

                  Interestingly, outside "tex-mex" and horrid stuff found in bars, a lot of our so-called Mexican cuisine here in Montréal is actually made by people from farther south, in Central America. Several Salvadorean and Guatemalan places also feature "Mexican" dishes - strangely, so have a couple of Brazilian places.

                  There is little semi-skilled labour migration from Mexico here - the Mexicans I know in Montréal are professionals. This may change with the increase in farmworkers brought here - who may stay on, especially if they marry local people (some have already) or in Western Canada, where there are skilled workers in the oil patch who may go into another field when that boom eventually turns down.

              1. re: KevinB

                Good Lord that description made my stomach turn... it reminds me of the many Chinese owned "Mexican" taco shops that still abound in Manhattan.

              2. There is no such thing as "Mexican Canadian" food. "Mexican" food in Canada is execrable. We simply have too few Mexicans, and among them too few Mexican restaurant owners.

                13 Replies
                1. re: John Manzo

                  What is the state of Canadian food in Mexico?

                  1. re: paulj

                    So what would you call "Canadian" food?

                    1. re: Pollo

                      Deep fried zucchini sticks, all dressed pizzas, cheese curds, beaver tails,

                      1. re: WelcomeBack

                        What is a "bever tail"???....I have seen Inuit eat fermented beaver tails (the real deal) and paws but that's not the stuff you will find easily and most Canadians never heard of. All the other stuff you list sounds like Mid-West USA....

                        1. re: Pollo

                          beaver tail is a sweet fried dough.

                          1. re: Lucia

                            Never heard of it in 20+ years of living in Vancouver....

                            1. re: Pollo

                              I've had it in Montreal. Maybe it's a Quebec thing.

                              1. re: Lucia

                                It's an Eastern Canada thing, including Eastern Ontario (they're standard Rideau Canal food).

                                1. re: piccola

                                  They also have them in Manitoba, but I believe there that they're referred to as elephant ears.

                              2. re: Pollo

                                I believe they can be found at Canada's Wonderland. I don't know if I would call it "Canadian". What is Canadian could start a whole other thread (if it hasn't already) and would quickly become what is French Canadian, Atlantic Cdn, Western Cdn, etc.

                                1. re: pescatarian

                                  Beaver tail is like what's called an elephant ear at many of the State Fairs in the South. Probably not far off from the taste of a funnel cake.

                          2. re: Pollo

                            Québec definitely has a distinctive cuisine, whether old-fashioned dishes (such as tourtière) which may be tasty but are heavy - peasant fare for cold climates, or contemporary urban cuisine.

                      2. I'm not expert but Tex-Mex is clearly Mexican-American food, as it's a fusion between the two borders.