Fronteras: Is Tex-Mex ‘real’ Mexican food? — A deep dive into the history & criticisms of the iconic cuisine
A discussion about Tex-Mex cuisine can often be followed by fierce debate.
For some, Tex-Mex food is an inauthentic take on Mexican food. For others, Tex-Mex falls into its own category, distinguished by yellow cheese and combo platters.
Tex-Mex was at the center of a Great SA panel discussion hosted at Texas Public Radio’s Carlos and Malú Alvarez Theater on April 20, 2023.
TPR’s Norma Martinez moderated the discussion, where a four-person panel discussed the history of Tex-Mex and the narratives surrounding it.
The interactive discussion also featured audience questions about the merits of Tex-Mex, its regionality, and how people have experienced it over time.
Steven Pizzini, owner of Lala’s Gorditas in San Antonio, argued Tex Mex goes far beyond just the food.
He said his Tex-Mex restaurant has seen third-generation clientele and has become a staple for many families.
“Food brings so much memory,” he said. “You have a memory of your childhood and what you experience. That's so critical and so important, and it's very special.”
Gustavo Arellano, L.A. Times columnist and author of Taco USA and ¡Ask a Mexican! says one of the best things about Tex-Mex is that it’s always changing.
“If you try to preserve food, you become ossified and then you become a relic,” he said. “That's the genius of Mexican food, is that it always does evolve.”
Other panelists included José Ralat, Texas Monthly taco editor, author of American Tacos, and James Beard Award winner, and Melissa Guerra, a food historian, cookbook author, and James Beard Award nominee.
Listen to the first part of the conversation here.
Watch a video of the event below.