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May 21, 2012 09:12 AM

Book Recommendation for Mexican Food Afficionados

Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano.

It gives an excellent account of the story of American's love affair with our neighbor's gastronomic legacy. There are also chapters devoted to the legitimacy of Tex-Mex and Southwestern cuisine, which could be used to settle some long-standing arguments. I found it fascinating, most notably the fact that "Americanized" Mexican food and the products associated with it weren't started by ignorant gringos but by immigrant entrepreneurs who's innovations helped solidify the definitions of Mexican food in the US. Many of the prominent chefs, authors, and other food personalities associated with the cuisine get a mention: Rick Bayless, Diana Kennedy, Susan Fenniger & Mary Sue Milliken, John Rivera Sedlar, etc. they're all in there. A great read if you love food history.

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  1. The TexMex issue is discussed by Robb Walsh in this blog on his website.

    He also shows how Tex-Mex was started by Tejanos, not whites, and how the Diana Kennedy's of the world inspired dislike of the food. There is a link to his books, including his Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbaco cookbook. Check out his website, some interesting stuff, not just Tex-Mex.

    1 Reply
    1. re: James Cristinian

      That's exactly what Arellano states. When people say Tex-Mex isn't authentic, they are dead wrong. He even explains the history of the "Californios," Spanish settlers in California prior to Mexico's independence, and their cultural legacy.

    2. I haven't read the book, so thanks for the review.

      He was interviewed by Tom Ashbrook on On Point a while back, and I really enjoyed the interview. I'll check out the book.