Will the real Mexican.........

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roossy90
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2005/12/01 14:46:25 (permalink)

Will the real Mexican.........

Ok.. here is one for you.
When I lived in Florida, I worked at a prety decent Mexican restaurant.
Most of the servers were American, but the owners were Cuban, and all the help in the kitchen were Guatamalen..(sp?) I think the only Mexican was the bus-girl..

And that was the way with 4 other "mexican "home-style"..not chain) joints in the area. I only know this because they were all cousins and related of some sort..and my boss would tell me stories about them all.
The only "Uncle" that didnt have a mexican restaurant had the best Cuban food restaurant in the space coast.. which is Cocoa Beach, Cape canaveral, titusville, Melbourne area of Florida....
And they all had unique items on their menus, it wasnt the cookie cutter menu like chinese take out usually is....
If you ever get to Cocoa Beach. a must go is Roberto's Havana.. for the cuban food..
(not to get off the mexican kick here)
Tara
#1

15 Replies Related Threads

    BT
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/01 17:55:31 (permalink)
    This is far from unusual. I have often thought that one reason the "Mexican" food in San Francisco tastes different to me than the "Mexican" food closer to the border (either in San Diego or here in Southern AZ) is because in San Francisco a lot of the restaurant owners/workers/cooks are Salvadorean/Guatamalan/Nicaraguan and not, actually, Mexican. Closer to the border, I think you seem to get a higher percentage of actual Mexicans doing the cooking. People living nowhere near the border don't understand a lot of things about immigration (legal and otherwise) across it, but many of the people flooding into the US aren't coming from Mexico, they are just passing through Mexico from points south. I think many of the actual Mexicans (expecially those entering legally) prefer to stay as close to the border area as possible in order to maintain ties with relatives and friends living on the other side and to be able to go home for visits.
    #2
    Fieldthistle
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/03 06:05:56 (permalink)
    Hello All,
    I live near Harrisonburg, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and we have a large
    Hispanic population and a growing Hispanic number of eateries. The problem is
    Hispanic around here means people from South America, the Carribean region, Central
    American, and Mexico. Everyone makes dishes differently, but all are labelled
    Mexican.
    It's nothing to get crazy about as long as the food is good. I don't care who comes
    from where and what they are making. We even have a Chinese guy who opened an
    Indian restaurant.
    Take Care,
    Fieldthistle
    #3
    1bbqboy
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/03 10:35:41 (permalink)
    This is from the "Green Sauces" thread of long ago, but I thought Richard's take on the subject was pretty good:


    "Folks,

    I remember from my youth the Mexican restaurant 'gringo' shuffle: "Is green hotter than red - or milder? I forget." And that question STILL seems to get posed far too often in a place that should fundamentally understand that it all depends on the ingredients. If you don't know your chiles (and even if you do - the naming conventions have gotten pretty sloppy because of lapses of attention, memory, mental discipline, whatever...), you have to sample. "What if it's too hot?" Always sample as if it will be. Those of us who have been eating this stuff since infancy still sample [unless we really already know] before diving in. I long ago gave up trying to get people to just taste, rather tha play '20 Questions' to determine whether their tastebuds might be at risk for permanent damage. I now encourage those folks to eat something besides Mexican, lest a stray pepper injure their digestive tract.

    Even within my own family, there's a tremendous breadth of variation in how we prepare our salsas - my mom cooked all her salsas, my sister does it all in a blender, and I like to blacken my chiles [fresh serranos, typically] and tomatoes before I chop up my salsa fresca. We all like tomatillos, but almost never make salsa featuring them - consequently, our family gatherings can feature 100% red salsas. (Unless I make my yellow salsa [yellow tomatoes, pineapple and/or mango, serranos, lime juice, easy on the cilantro] for some nice grilled fish.)
    Buena suerte,
    Richard
    Berkeley/SF, CA

    P.S. The usage of "Hispanic" in this forum (and elsewhere in the universe) warrants some attention here. Except in reference to things or people from Spain - or of, or under, Spanish influence - "Hispanic" isn't properly used to describe all peoples from - or with origins in - Latin America. Many, but not all, speak [or come from traditions of speaking] Spanish. The preferred term for this group, at least in the communities that I've encountered in my limited travels, is "Latino." The term is used for broad-community references, not for narrow-community reference. In the same way that "European cuisine" would lump 'Wiener Schnitzel' with 'bangers & mash,' "Latino cuisine" would lump 'tacos de pescado' with a 'Cuban sandwich.' For the purpose of this forum, 'Mexican' (and other nationalist references) is exactly what's called for. Where things get especially confusing - and why "Hispanic" muddies the water - is that there are foods mentioned here that are pre-Hispanic (or 'pre-Columbian,' if you prefer), like corn tortillas. (Other pre-Hispanic offerings would include tomatoes & chocolate.) Many folks that you might find in California & elsewhere in the Americas today were never vanquished by the Spanish - only recently, in the time of agricultural collapse in their communities of origin, have they even learned a little Spanish [& more recently, English] to get by economically. Latinos understand & [mostly] accept "Latino" - Latinos understand & [often] resent "Hispanic." While not exactly derogatory, it does push our buttons. Think how you would feel if you were called 'English' for the fact that you spoke English, rather than be called 'American.' In some places, 'Hispanic' is used as code for Latinos who have 'pure' European/Spanish blood - so if you think you can tell them apart by looking, they are most definitely NOT 'Hispanic'...."

    ...and there you go.
    #4
    jbbohland
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/03 12:07:02 (permalink)
    I used to live near Harrisonburg too Fieldthistle. I swear there were more good Mexican/Latin restaurants in the area than many cities 10 times the size. The tamale place in Dayton is great and in Harrisonburg there is that little taqueria/sandwich place that used to be a gas station at one time. Here in Va beach we only have one or two decent places.
    #5
    Fieldthistle
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/03 12:46:22 (permalink)
    Hello All,
    Bill Voss, thanks for the info on hispanic vs. Latino. No offense intended.
    jbbohland, I couldn't agree with you more. La Casita is the name
    of the one in Dayton, but they make much more than tamales, and I love
    the taqueria/sandwich place, but I can't recall it's name. It's the first
    place I found goat on the menu in the area. I don't know if you've been
    here lately, but there is a new place called Guzzman's Mexican Restaurant
    which is very good.
    Take Care,
    Fieldthistle
    #6
    1bbqboy
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/03 12:53:22 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Fieldthistle

    Hello All,
    Bill Voss, thanks for the info on hispanic vs. Latino. No offense intended.
    jbbohland, I couldn't agree with you more. La Casita is the name
    of the one in Dayton, but they make much more than tamales, and I love
    the taqueria/sandwich place, but I can't recall it's name. It's the first
    place I found goat on the menu in the area. I don't know if you've been
    here lately, but there is a new place called Guzzman's Mexican Restaurant
    which is very good.
    Take Care,
    Fieldthistle

    Fieldthistle: no problemo!... only that Richard's explanation helps to explain the variation in "Mexican" eat places in different parts of the country. We just had a good series in our local paper on the tensions between groups of immigrants from different Mexican States here in our valley.
    #7
    BT
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/03 13:14:05 (permalink)
    Back when he said it, I agreed with Richard on the food part of his rant, but I took issue with some of the rest then and I will now. HE may be sensitive about the use of the term "Hispanic" for the mostly-mestizo (for those without a dictionary, that means "a person of mixed blood; a person of mixed Spanish and Amerindian blood") populations in question, but my experience is that most of the people toward whom it might apply are much less sensitive. Still, as applied to people rather than food, the term "Spanish-surnamed" might be more apt since even those with mostly Amerind blood have surnames derived from Spanish roots. For another viewpoint on the various terms to persons whose family origins were "south of the border, see: http://www.azteca.net/aztec/chicano.html . Personally, I don't like the term "latino". It obviously refers to cultures with origins deriving at least in part from the Latin or Roman. In that sense, while it would encompass the Brazilians (who speak Portuguese, not Spanish), it certainly doesn't encompass any of the Amerind cultures about which Richard expresses concern. And worse, at least in its Anglicized form, "latin", it includes cultures which have nothing to do with the matter in question such as Italian, French, even Romanian.

    Now, back to "Mexican" food. What seems to matter, aside from individual taste and personalized food prep styles (as Richard described), is "Where did the cook come from?" Assuming (s)he is Hispanic(!) at all, (s)he could be from any of the Mexican states which have very different cuisines or (s)he could be from some part of South or, more likely, Central American other than Mexico. It's sad, of course, that in order to make commercial success more likely, a good Guatamalan cook has to claim to be preparing Mexican food, but in much of America that may be the case, though there are exceptions. Increasingly, in big cities you will find restaurants which proudly acknowledge the true origin of their cuisine and often they are quite popular.
    #8
    enginecapt
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/05 05:33:58 (permalink)
    Mr. Voss, wasn't that Richard Alba?
    #9
    1bbqboy
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/05 11:50:50 (permalink)
    Yes. I couldn't figure out how to past his name tag in along with it, as it kept linking the thread instead of just the comments.
    It was in this thread:
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=378
    I always enjoy Richard's comments, sparse though they are.
    #10
    roossy90
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/07 13:29:56 (permalink)
    LOL.. Boy I really started something here...

    I am getting a history lesson....
    Tara
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    Milt
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/17 18:54:00 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BT

    Back when he said it, I agreed with Richard on the food part of his rant, but I took issue with some of the rest then and I will now. HE may be sensitive about the use of the term "Hispanic" for the mostly-mestizo (for those without a dictionary, that means "a person of mixed blood; a person of mixed Spanish and Amerindian blood") populations in question, but my experience is that most of the people toward whom it might apply are much less sensitive. Still, as applied to people rather than food, the term "Spanish-surnamed" might be more apt since even those with mostly Amerind blood have surnames derived from Spanish roots. For another viewpoint on the various terms to persons whose family origins were "south of the border, see: http://www.azteca.net/aztec/chicano.html . Personally, I don't like the term "latino". It obviously refers to cultures with origins deriving at least in part from the Latin or Roman. In that sense, while it would encompass the Brazilians (who speak Portuguese, not Spanish), it certainly doesn't encompass any of the Amerind cultures about which Richard expresses concern. And worse, at least in its Anglicized form, "latin", it includes cultures which have nothing to do with the matter in question such as Italian, French, even Romanian.

    Now, back to "Mexican" food. What seems to matter, aside from individual taste and personalized food prep styles (as Richard described), is "Where did the cook come from?" Assuming (s)he is Hispanic(!) at all, (s)he could be from any of the Mexican states which have very different cuisines or (s)he could be from some part of South or, more likely, Central American other than Mexico. It's sad, of course, that in order to make commercial success more likely, a good Guatamalan cook has to claim to be preparing Mexican food, but in much of America that may be the case, though there are exceptions. Increasingly, in big cities you will find restaurants which proudly acknowledge the true origin of their cuisine and often they are quite popular.



    Two thoughts based on the various above remarks. I grew up in northwestern New Mexico. In that area, Mexicans were citizens of Mexico and the locals were Spanish Americans. Their rationale was that they were descended from the Spanish explorers and settlers who first entered the area long before Mexico was formed as a country. One of my classmates was 1/4 Mexican and 3/4 Spanish because a grandmother was from Mexico and the rest of her ancestry was from the people who had been in New Mexico for three hundred years or so.

    In the Atlanta area, where I now live, there are many Mexican restaurants now. The closest one to my home is run by Colombians. Everyone with such an establishment will call it Mexican and perhaps have a second line which mentions Salvadoran or Nicaraguan or whatever. Unfortunately, so many potential customers are not very venturesome. If it doesn't say Mexican, they won't go in. With a little (very little) effort, I have been able to find which places are truly Mexican. We have great places for Cuban, Puerto Rican, Peruvian, Colombian, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Venezuelan, and Argentine food - as well as Brazilian. Some of them mention their nationalities and some do not. The other countries may be represented in the area - but I have yet to find them. The search is half of the fun.
    #12
    MilwFoodlovers
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/17 21:24:00 (permalink)
    Mexico has a wide variety of foods that we often lump together. Similar to a German visitor to the States thinking he may find clam chowders in Texas or Sand Dabs in Michigan. My experience with dining in Mexico found mostly seafoods, not surprising considering its geography. What we in Wisconsin call Mexican, is often New Mexican or Texan with much of "real" Mexican foods limited to dishes from the border area's of Mexico and not its rich variety from the interior. Eating in Guadalajara found mostly rolls served with meals (very similar to German-type water rolls from Milwaukee) with tortilla's (always corn) common in the many street vendor stands. Guatemalian dishes are very similar to Mexican food. My parents favorite dish was a shrimp stuffed jalapeno in a Chinese restaurant in Guatemala City. I remember reading a news account of Taco Bell being swamped when it first opened in Mexico City. As a puzzled American reporter quizzed a teenager why he would eat their food, he replied breathlessly that "he loved American food"!
    #13
    roossy90
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2005/12/18 15:27:15 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Milt

    quote:
    Originally posted by BT

    Back when he said it, I agreed with Richard on the food part of his rant, but I took issue with some of the rest then and I will now. HE may be sensitive about the use of the term "Hispanic" for the mostly-mestizo (for those without a dictionary, that means "a person of mixed blood; a person of mixed Spanish and Amerindian blood") populations in question, but my experience is that most of the people toward whom it might apply are much less sensitive. Still, as applied to people rather than food, the term "Spanish-surnamed" might be more apt since even those with mostly Amerind blood have surnames derived from Spanish roots. For another viewpoint on the various terms to persons whose family origins were "south of the border, see: http://www.azteca.net/aztec/chicano.html . Personally, I don't like the term "latino". It obviously refers to cultures with origins deriving at least in part from the Latin or Roman. In that sense, while it would encompass the Brazilians (who speak Portuguese, not Spanish), it certainly doesn't encompass any of the Amerind cultures about which Richard expresses concern. And worse, at least in its Anglicized form, "latin", it includes cultures which have nothing to do with the matter in question such as Italian, French, even Romanian.

    Now, back to "Mexican" food. What seems to matter, aside from individual taste and personalized food prep styles (as Richard described), is "Where did the cook come from?" Assuming (s)he is Hispanic(!) at all, (s)he could be from any of the Mexican states which have very different cuisines or (s)he could be from some part of South or, more likely, Central American other than Mexico. It's sad, of course, that in order to make commercial success more likely, a good Guatamalan cook has to claim to be preparing Mexican food, but in much of America that may be the case, though there are exceptions. Increasingly, in big cities you will find restaurants which proudly acknowledge the true origin of their cuisine and often they are quite popular.



    Two thoughts based on the various above remarks. I grew up in northwestern New Mexico. In that area, Mexicans were citizens of Mexico and the locals were Spanish Americans. Their rationale was that they were descended from the Spanish explorers and settlers who first entered the area long before Mexico was formed as a country. One of my classmates was 1/4 Mexican and 3/4 Spanish because a grandmother was from Mexico and the rest of her ancestry was from the people who had been in New Mexico for three hundred years or so.

    In the Atlanta area, where I now live, there are many Mexican restaurants now. The closest one to my home is run by Colombians. Everyone with such an establishment will call it Mexican and perhaps have a second line which mentions Salvadoran or Nicaraguan or whatever. Unfortunately, so many potential customers are not very venturesome. If it doesn't say Mexican, they won't go in. With a little (very little) effort, I have been able to find which places are truly Mexican. We have great places for Cuban, Puerto Rican, Peruvian, Colombian, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Venezuelan, and Argentine food - as well as Brazilian. Some of them mention their nationalities and some do not. The other countries may be represented in the area - but I have yet to find them. The search is half of the fun.


    Yeah, When I lived in Massachusetts, there was a "brazilian" restaurant, and when we went in there, it was all mexican dishes...
    But very very good, and thats where we always went when we wanted "mexican" after we ate there, unless we drove to Subury, and went to a divine place Named "Acapulco's", I bet it was Brazilians also, since there are so many Brazilians in New England...
    Never the less... If someone says Latino to me, I would automatically think Cuban, being from Miami... I wouldnt think Mexican.. but I guess if you are from California, and someone says Latino, you would think Mexican.. Its all relevant to what geographical area you live in, it seems..

    #14
    Richard Brooks Alba
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2006/02/06 15:32:10 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by enginecapt

    Mr. Voss, wasn't that Richard Alba?


    Well, more correctly "Richard Brooks Alba" - and 'Alba' has been part of my ID north of the border for the last decade, because 'Brooks' was insufficiently Hispanic for my would-be compatriots to find me....

    That "proximity to the border" rationale doesn't really hold much water - there are many authentic Mexican eateries across the Bay from San Francisco that are no closer to the US border than SF's Mission District, and Chicago is much further from the frontera [if not the Frontera Grill...] than SF is.

    The issue in SF is business start-up costs & the market for Mexican food. Central Americans are less likely than Mexicans to be here as economic refugees, and can occasionally afford to maintain businesses in SF proper. (But are often obliged to prepare Mexican food, as that's what the market most demands.) Mexican immigrants have an easier time living & working in the East Bay where real estate is cheaper, and there is a larger pool of Mexican customers to serve.

    A notable exception seems to be the influx of Mexicans from the southeast, like the Yucatan, who ARE opening restaurants in the Mission.
    Buen provecho,
    Richard
    Berkeley/SF

    P.S. It's nice to be back - I've been kinda busy of late....
    #15
    mr chips
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    RE: Will the real Mexican......... 2006/02/15 01:17:36 (permalink)
    Guatamalan and Salvadorian restaurants here in Portland also have featured Mexican cuisine as a way of getting people in the door. Welcome back, Mr. Alba, your posts are always interesting.
    #16
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