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Fronteras: ‘Nuestra gente, nuestra comida’ — Encuentro event celebrates the indigenous roots and impacts of Texas Mexican food

Texas Mexican food, also called comida casera, is the home-style cooking of Mexican American families and communities along South Texas and Northeastern Mexico.

It is not to be confused with Tex-Mex. The Native American roots of Texas Mexican food can be traced back to before Spanish colonization.

Encuentro: The Native American Roots of Texas Mexican Foodbrought together chefs, academics, and journalists in Houston to celebrate and explore the indigenous cuisine.

Chefs honored their ancestors with dishes that featured modern takes on traditional cuisines like tamales, chilaquiles and guisados.

Adán Medrano — chef, writer, filmmaker, and project director of Encuentro — has been a champion of Texas Mexican cuisine for years.

He discussed what sparked the idea behind the one-of-a-kind event.

“The purpose was to bring the chefs together in order to form a bond of solidarity, so that they would realize with their dishes and with helping one another to cook, that they are not alone,” he said.

Encuentro featured Lilliana Saldaña, an associate professor in Mexican American studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and chef Rebel Mariposa, owner of La Botánica.

Saldaña said the event provided a platform for people to share their own experiences with indigenous cuisine.

“We're learning about the stories behind the foods, and we're getting to share this knowledge through our own perspectives, through our own lens and in our own voice,” she said. “We're not waiting for others to write about us.”

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1