Filed under: Holidays on the Road
Tex-Mex New Year’s Eve Food
I know, I know…I’m pushing it. Christmas isn’t even here and I’m going to talk to you about food on New Year’s Eve. We live in Texas and we are loyal to our state with every fiber of our being. That said; let me tell you where some of this loyalty comes from.
When someone says, “Let’s go get some Tex-Mex,” I’m out the door. Leading the pack…mouth watering. I can’t get enough of it. I long for it when we visit other states and people look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language when I ask them if they serve Tex-Mex.
During New Year’s Eve at parties and homes across Texas you’ll find Texas Caviar, BBQ, desserts, varieties of Tex-Mex dishes and the traditional tamales being served.
You don’t necessarily have to live in Texas to get this food but evidently, this is a well-kept secret in other states. So, I’ll just do my part by telling you the virtues of Tex-Mex. Before long you’ll be yelling, “Que pasa, partner” while waving a margarita around.
Let me give you a brief explanation of what I’m talking about. Tex-Mex food is a brilliant fusion of Mexican food, Texas farm and cowboy vittles. Well, sort of.
Let’s follow the trail of how Texas and Mexican cooking fused in the Holy Trinity of Texas. That would be San Antonio, Dallas and Houston to those of you outside of our country. Oops…sorry. Sometimes we Texans think we’re a country of our own. But, we actually love being a part of the United States.
Tex-Mex had its beginnings in Mexico. Yes, I know, that seems quite obvious. But just stay with me on this for a moment. The Mayans and Aztecs had some influence on the cooking of the Mexicans with the use of tomatoes, avocados, papayas, vanilla, cocoa, several types of beans and a variety of chili peppers that were grown in their area. The Europeans contributed to the mix with cattle, sheep, chickens, wheat, rice, nuts, wines, oils, cloves and cinnamon.
As we move forward in time, the missionary nuns of Mexico developed new foods combining the products of both the Indian and Spanish cultures. Mexico had been invaded by Spain earlier so the new contributions were mole poblano, (spiced chocolate sauce with fruits, nuts and chilies) served over meat such as chicken.
Now, that the initial fusion of those ingredients were being used as a daily part of the Mexican diet, it was only natural that this style of cooking crossed over the Southwest border of the United States, around San Antonio, as the Mexican people came here for work and to find places to live. As with the historical sharing of food and recipes, this tradition was carried forward and merged with the cooking of American Indians and frontier cooks.
Meanwhile, back on the range the Indians and frontiersmen were adding in their own mix of ingredients such as corn, squash, melons and pumpkins and cooking it their own way with the addition of spices they were used to. If you look back at the ingredients that I’ve listed so far, you won’t have to wonder how someone could have come up with such a treasured genre of cooking. Three cheers for ingenuity and imagination.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t share that some people feel Tex-Mex began with the “Chili Queens” of San Antonio in the late 1800′s. No, they weren’t a popular rock group. The Chili Queens were women who would arrive at twilight at the plazas of San Antonio, Texas. They would put up their tables and put pots of chili on open fires to cook along with coffee and tamales. The plazas were crowded with soldiers, businessmen, cowboys, Anglos, Tejanos, anyone who happened to be at the plaza. Singers and troubadours would wind their way through the mix of people singing into the night. Quite a romantic picture isn’t it? Well, Tex-Mex food is deserving of a history like that.
So, no matter how you celebrate New Year’s Eve, plan on adding some Tex-Mex dishes to your table. You’ll wonder why you waited so long.
As you close out 2012, count your blessings and pray that the New Year brings us peace once and for all.