A Story Of Chips And Salsa – by Mike Leavy

A plate of tortilla chips with a bowl of salsa in the middle

This is not Mexican meals!

I hear this usually, particularly out of the mouths of individuals from the USA who cannot sq. their U.S. expertise of Mexican meals with the meals in Mexico. The expertise many individuals from the U.S. and Canada have when consuming Mexican meals in Mexico could be summed up within the following two assertions:

  1. I am unable to discover the Mexican meals I am used to

    1. OK, you have to be within the “actual” Mexico – someplace that does not cater to vacationers from the U.S. and Canada (as an apart, I do not just like the time period “actual” Mexico; it is all actual, hermano – simply completely different sorts of actuality. However I am utilizing it right here as a result of it illustrates some extent and I am lazy). When you’re on this a part of Mexico, you will not discover the standard fare served at U.S. “Mexican” eating places like Chevy’s, Albertos or El Torito (and do I even have to say Taco Bell, Chipotle, and Qdoba?). A variety of what the U.S. calls Mexican meals is a uniquely U.S. interpretation of a really small subset of Mexico’s delicacies: tacos, enchiladas, burritos and the like.

  2. This [burrito, taco, chips & salsa, tostada] would not look or style like those I am used to

    1. So yeah, you are most likely in a touristy space, and also you’re questioning why your taco would not have cheese on it. Or why the burrito is not full of 2 dozen completely different substances (“excuse me, my burrito appears to be lacking French fries”). Or why you’ll be able to’t discover flautas on the menu in any respect. Or why the chips are so thick and never very crunchy, and the salsa is in a bottle.

I am simply going to say it, so brace your self: that stuff you are consuming at Chevy’s in downtown Los Angeles? That is not Mexican meals. This is the deal: “Mexican” meals within the U.S. falls into two classes (there are exceptions, btw – however I am not going to get into issues just like the true Mexican meals present in historically Mexican neighborhoods, like Pilsen in Chicago; or fine-dining institutions – these exceptions do not assist my thesis, so I will ignore them): California Mexican meals, and Tex-Mex (i.e. Texas Mexican meals). For its half, I give Texas main props for having the superb foresight to disambiguate what they’re serving by throwing that “Tex-” in there. Tex-Mex is clearly not Mexican meals – it is a fusion of Texas and Mexico delicacies. After all you are not going to go to Mexico and say “give me a few of that Tex-Mex y’all are so well-known for”.

And California Mexican meals? Come on, California – could not you will have taken Texas’ lead and referred to as it Cal-Mex? It might have eliminated a lot confusion, as a result of simply calling it “Mexican” after which exporting it to each state within the U.S. is the supply of all the confusion over what individuals are consuming north of the U.S.-Mexico border vs. south of it.

Chips and salsa

Could not be extra American in case you served it in a bald eagle’s nest and topped it with apple pie. Chips and salsa is a U.S. invention, full cease. Eating places in touristy locations in Mexico serve it, as a result of their vacationer prospects count on and demand it. And it tastes completely different as a result of it isn’t a dish that Mexicans are accustomed to serving. Severely, there are higher issues to do with tortillas than break them up into triangles and deep fry them. This isn’t saying, nonetheless, that I would not eat an entire basket of them given half an opportunity.


Yeah, American. OK – actual burritos most likely originated within the Mexican border state of Chihuahua. However they’re historically a lot smaller than their U.S. cousins – usually consisting of just one or two substances. However the burritos that U.S. diners are accustomed to just about solely share a flour tortilla wrapping with their Mexican counterparts. Burritos within the U.S. are typically of the “Mission” selection – gigantic rolled tubes invented within the Mission district of San Francisco. However these aren’t any extra Mexican than spaghetti.


Lastly, we get to a real Mexican dish. Tacos are quintessentially Mexican and could be discovered throughout Mexico, not simply the border areas. However once more, the U.S. has overdone their copies these stalwarts of Mexican breakfasts and late evening avenue meals. In Mexico, a taco is often meat, onion and cilantro served folded in a corn or flour tortilla. Topped with thick and spicy salsa, there isn’t a higher consuming on the planet than a real Mexican taco. Distinction this with the U.S. variation that’s usually full of meat, lettuce, diced tomatoes, bitter cream, guacamole, and (OMG) cheese – UGH! Mexican tacos haven’t got cheese! JUST STOP WITH THE CHEESE ALREADY!! Yeah, in case you’re used to U.S. tacos, the tacos in Mexico will really feel fairly alien to you. However dig in, they’re like 5,000 occasions higher in Mexico.

That is a pun – get it? “Wrapping”? Like burritos are wrapped? By no means thoughts. I am nonetheless simply upset in regards to the cheese. Anyway, hopefully this provides you a tiny, sub-atomic particle sized little bit of perception into why the meals you order in Mexico would not conjure up the thrill of eating on the native Del Taco in Wichita, Kansas. Not that the meals on the native Del Taco is unhealthy (besides, it’s) – it simply is not Mexican meals.

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