Texas has always been known to stand for everything ‘Murica. You probably think about bald eagles soaring free over longhorns enclosed by white picket fences. You probably hear “y’all” and “yes, ma’am” exchanged at a table full of juicy, saucy barbecue, alongside conversation in support of far-right conservatives.
Don’t get me wrong…we totally bleed red, white, and blue down here (Ron would approve). But what may be Texas’ greatest cultural phenomenon is our spin on Mexican food. Until you’ve tried it, you probably won’t understand how to approach it, so let’s review the five Tenants of Tex-Mex with Mr. Swanson.
1. You can eat tacos for every meal, including (and especially) breakfast
It will be rare to find a plain chicken or beef taco. They’re usually chock full of rotisserie or shredded chicken, flank steak, shrimp, barbecue, or sausage. Topped with plenty of cilantro and avocados, they’re then perfected with crema (soft sour cream) or salsa.
Craving a taco in the morning? The breakfast tacos always have a mess of potatoes, bacon, eggs. No matter what the ingredient, it’s probably stuffed in a breakfast taco somewhere in Texas.
2. Don’t let anyone steal your queso
It’s SO much more than just liquid cheese, this stuff is liquid gold. Down here we like queso blanco, which is a creamier, tangier version than your average cheddar queso.
It’s a perfect complement to every part of your Tex-Mex meal. Chips? Duh. On a taco? Of course. Over an enchilada? Why not. As mac and cheese? Psh, a recipe already exists for that. Drink it by itself? It’s definitely happened before, no shame.
3. Sharing is caring when you order a fajita
This is a beast of an order. It’s marched out on a large wooden platter and/or iron skillet, steaming with sizzling meat and veggies that await their destiny in a warm flour tortilla.
Don’t be intimidated by the endless combinations of this meal, but tackle it with a friend and get creative while making your personal tacos. If people can make awesome tacos in a food court, you can do anything too.
4. You can get creative with your salsa
After finally combing through rather extensive Tex-Mex menus, you’ll be presented with more salsas than you can imagine. Other than your average tomato salsa, you can spice it up with a color change and get a salsa verde or even create your own.
If the season is right and you’re feeling fruit, maybe opt for the mango or cherry salsas. A Texan favorite would be a smoked salsa, which has a crazy dark aftertaste. For something with more texture, try the corn salsa. Feeling wild? Go for the chile salsa. It “tastes like heaven but burns like hell.”
5. Avoid Taco Bell at all costs
Let me start off by saying that Taco Bell is NOT Tex-Mex. Texans actually laugh if you associate this fast food chain with one of our favorite cuisines. Brisket tacos, shrimp tacos, and maybe even buffalo tacos are tradition in this great state, not questionable horse meat tacos.