Like most Texans, my father had strong opinions about food, particularly Tex-Mex. Injecting sour cream into guacamole or allowing it anywhere near a taco was a Yankee abomination. And serving enchiladas without freshly chopped raw onions? Well, that was just scandalous. He was a well-traveled, worldly and kind man. But any crimes, real or perceived, against Tex-Mex brought out the redneck in him.
I can’t help but wonder what my father would say about the shrimp tacos on this cover. Fish tacos are a California-Mexican cuisine, some food authorities have argued. Did we break the Tex-Mex rules? What are the rules? For that matter, what is Tex-Mex?
Turns out, the history and heritage of Tex-Mex is a complicated, hot mess. In search of answers, we met with Robb Walsh, author of “The Tex-Mex Cookbook,” over a meal of sopa de fideo and quesadillas at Mi Abuelitas on the island. Walsh takes a more relaxed approach to what qualifies as Tex-Mex, and approved of our plan to serve shrimp tacos on the cover. The shrimp were from the Gulf of Mexico, after all, and the preparation has all the hallmarks of Tex-Mex cuisine. We were fine.
We asked Walsh to school us on the history of Tex-Mex for this issue. And he kindly obliged.
My father wasn’t alone in his fiery opinions about Tex-Mex, of course. But it’s subjective. Some people we interviewed for this issue blurred distinctions between authentic cuisine of Mexico and Tex-Mex.
Each September, we focus on food. We learned a lot in this issue about a cuisine that Texans hold so dear. We hope you do, too.