Tex-Mex = The American knockoff of real Mexican food. Hard shell tacos, nachos, and burritos (yes, I know, this is the sh*t we love) are all products of Mexican food made through an American scope. I'm not saying we shouldn't stop eating these tasty creations, I'm just saying that we shouldn't be calling them Mexican dishes.
Sorry, but a Doritos Locos Taco can not be found on a traditional Mexican restaurant menu — neither can a Crunchwrap Supreme, a burrito bowl, or a chalupa. This is Americanization at its peak, ladies and gents.
But, how did Tex-Mex become a thing in the first place?
Tex-Mex is a relatively new invention in the world of food and originated when Anglo-Americans traveled west to settle in Texas. There, they encountered Mexican culture and the food that came with it. As more and more people began to build their lives in Texas, the love for Mexican food grew, and people began to try to make these delectable dishes on their own. This, my friends, is where we see the beginning of the ever-loved Tex-Mex.
When making these Mexican dishes, out of convenience, the settlers substituted native Texan ingredients such as beef and wheat flour for certain Mexican foods. In time, people developed a fond liking to these new ingredients, and Mexican food restaurant owners in Texas began to incorporate these foods into their dishes. S/O to steak fajitas.
The difference between American Mexican food and real Mexican food comes down to switching a few vital ingredients to create entirely new dishes. Tex-Mex is really just Mexican food on cheese, bread, and beef steroids. Throw in the cheddar, throw in the wheat, and you've fused together a Texas rancher and northern Mexican cuisine.
So, here is my solution for you. If you're feeling wild and adventurous, and if you're ready to end your Chipotle burrito kick and try a more authentic take on Mexican dishes, here are some substitutions for your Tex-Mex favorites.
1. Order a soft shell taco instead of a hard shell
2. Try Chilaquiles instead of nachos
Check out this authentic recipe.
3. Instead of cheddar, add queso fresco to your next dish
Throw some queso fresco on top of some homemade tortilla chips.
4. If you really can't ditch the beef, try Chiles en Nogada (beef stuffed peppers)
Buuuut, if you're all about ditching the beef, make these veggie stuffed peppers instead.
5. Ditch the taquitos, and opt for a flauta
You're gonna need something to dip those flautas in. Try making this delicious guac to serve on the side.
So there you have it, folks. You can have have your Crunchwrap Supreme and eat it, too, but know that it isn't the real deal. If you're looking to make your meal authentic, ditch the Tex-Mex and try ordering or even making traditional Mexican cuisine. From a self-proclaimed Mexican food connoisseur, I can assure you — you will not be disappointed.