I contacted Jane Butel, a renowned expert on all things Mexican food related to get clarification on this subject. She's authored several cookbooks on Mexican Cuisine, including "Chili Madness". She conducts a Southwestern cooking school in Correles, NM and travels the world discussing Southwestern Cuisine. I asked her to clarify the difference between Cal-Mex & Tex-Mex.
Here's what Jane has to say:
"Yes I can!!
That is one of the most frequent questions when I tour--Tex-Mex basically was developed on the Texas-Mexican border by German and British settlers using Mexican influence and their loads and loads of beef they had no market for as they had come to Texas for free land. (The Alamo made the early Texas settlers realize that they did not want to go thru that again, hence advertised free land in Texas in newspapers in Europe, precipitating the migration.) Once there, they came to realize there was no market for the beef until the railroads came--hence tons and tons of beef to eat!
On the other hand, the Cal Mex was influenced by the earlier Spanish mission settlers who had more of a Spanish influence and liked lighter food, heavier with vegetables, olives, etc. developing a cuisine heavy on tomatoes, etc. For example their red chile sauce has a concentration of tomato and is not hot.
On the other hand, the early priests, monks, etc who came to New Mexico based their cuisine on the chiles and corn that the natives had developed. It is a much older cuisine and simpler. The Spanish added pork, sugar and wheat--plus spices and a broader culinary know-how, such as using hornos for baking.
Hope this helps--any help you can give me for subscribers to Butel's Bytes would be greatly appreciated. They can sign up on the home page and it is a free newsletter-- we do not share names that gives readers recipes, tips, hints deals etc."
Thank You Jane!
Jane's Web Site is http://www.janebutelcooking.com/Public/Home/index.cfm
For the Butel's Bytes newsletter: http://www.janebutelcooking.com/Public/E-Newsletter/index.cfm
So my interpretation of what Jane said is that Tex-Mex is more Beef oriented and Cal-Mex is lighter and more veggie oriented. NM-Mex is more Chile & Corn oriented.
AZ-Mex is Disoriented!!!
<message edited by Foodbme on Mon, 10/17/11 10:03 PM>