Mexico influences on American food have been taking place for decades. And, how could they not, them being such close neighbors and all? But in the last few decades, there has been a distinct spread of these flavors up north and every corner of the U.S. And now, well, Mexican dishes and flavors are entirely mainstream.
It isn’t easy to visit a restaurant in the states without finding a Mexican dish on the menu, from tortillas and tacos to salsa and enchiladas. And did you know that there is even a National Taco Day in the U.S.? Observed on October 4th, it’s the best day for finding great deals at Latino restaurants across the country.
Let’s look at the history of Mexican food in the U.S. and the Mexico influences on American food.
Mexican Food Moves up North
The main reason Mexican food made its way to the U.S. was due to the influx of immigrants. On arriving in the U.S., they continued to cook and serve their cultural dishes as a symbol of pride for the ethnicity. This eventually turned into a realization that their food was sought-after and could become a source of income. This led to a rise in immigrants selling their food and opening small Mexican restaurants called cantinas in Texas and Southern California.
Introducing Tex-Mex Cuisine
Of course, being such close neighbors, the U.S. was bound to pick up on the elements of Mexican culture and cuisine. This is where we see the Mexico influences on American food, with the invention of Tex-Mex style food emerging in the 1940s. Tex-Mex is a fusion of northern Mexico food and Southwestern Texas cooking technique and ingredients. Still popular, you will find many restaurants serving this style of food today and supermarkets stocked with plenty of ready-to-cook food products.
What’s Happening Now?
At the moment, Mexican food is considered the third most popular food in the U.S., after American and Italian, with 15% of main meal items featured on menus being Mexican-inspired. Millennials are very accepting and happy with different cultures and their traditions, more so than previous generations. And this has grown the popularity of Mexican food way beyond tacos and nachos.
With more American tourists visiting Mexico, we have also seen a push toward more authentic cuisine being offered in the U.S. rather than just Tex-Mex meals. Now you’ll easily find dishes such as pupusas, empanadas, chimichurris, and many other cultural favorites.
Let’s look at just three of the most popular Mexican dishes and how they differ from their Tex-Mex form.
This traditional and favorite Mexican dish only varies regionally according to its fillings. Using small and soft corn tortillas, these are lightly grilled or steamed and filled with all types of meats – from beef and pork to chicken and seafood. Next, the veggies, homemade salsa, onions, and avos are added and then garnished with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and less-sour cream cheese called crema.
The American version is simpler, using soft or hard flour tortillas filled with spiced beef and fewer veggies. The only vegetables added are iceberg lettuce, chopped tomato, and Mexican cheese, and topped with sour cream.
Called Tacos de Harina in Mexico, these are thinner and smaller with fewer fillings than the American version. They are often filled with meat or seafood and paired with only one or two other ingredients like rice, beans, white cheese, or chilies.
The American burrito is made with large flour tortillas wrapped around many more fillings than the Mexican version. It usually includes rice, beans, meat, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.
A Mexican enchilada is fried and dipped in spicy chili sauce and then rolled up with meat, veggies, and cheese, garnished with white cheese and served hot.
The American version is a tortilla wrapped around ground beef and cheese and drenched with chili sauce or gravy.
Visit Us Today
Are you looking for great authentic Mexican cuisine and Mexican craft beers or tequila? Come to Benito’s in the Fairmount area of Fort Worth. Well known for our breakfast dishes, pico de gallo, fresh guac, queso flameado, and range of Mexican beers and margaritas. You’ll experience true Mexican cuisine with us at Benito’s.
To book a table, call us at 817-332-8633. To find out more, go to our website.