There is a long and tasty history which leads us up to the Old El Paso do-it-yourself kits which we know and love today. It is believed that traditional Mexican food dates back to the Mayan Indians who were rambling around Mexico over 9000 years ago feasting on corn tortillas and bean paste. The Mayans were hunter gatherers but protein sources were scarce and it wasn’t until the Spanish invasion in 1521 that new livestock sources were introduced including chicken, goat, beef and pork and sometime later sugar and wheat that the blend of influences became what was known as the food of Mexico.
The Spanish hung out for about 300 year until the Mexicans regained control of their country but the influence of Spanish cuisine stuck firmly and bam a marriage of the corn, bean, meat GENIUS that is the staple of Mexican dishes has infiltrated the world over as a colourful, spicy tasty delight which we know and love today.
As Mexicans began to migrate to American post Mexican revolution the Americans began to experience the delights of Mexican cuisine, but as with everything, food began to evolve. Tex–Mex actually originated with Tejanos (Mexican-American inhabitant of southern Texas) mixing up native Mexican and Spanish foods when Texas was part of New Spain and later Mexico. Those favourite Tex-Mex inventions such as that dribble inducing sound of a plate of a sizzling fajita platter as it approaches your dining table and enchiladas smothered in gooey yellow cheese are proof of this evolution and if you ask me, it’s bloody delicious. There’s nothing I like better than a plate of nachos or making homemade fajitas in a wheat based wrap… but these aren’t traditional Mexican foods.
In fact, I feel there is still a gap ready to be filled in our lovely little island of Blighty to bring some sunshine into our lives whether it be traditional or as a result of the constant Mexican food evolution. Yes, in the last ten years there has been a rise in restaurants offering us traditional Mexican cuisine. After winning Master Chef in 2005, Thomasina Miers opened the first Wahaca restaurant offering the Brits an array of Mexican Street food inspired by her travels. There are a number of other bespoke restaurants up and down the Country with some main players in London, but I am still of the opinion that we are missing a trick somewhere.
Our pals across the pond in the good old US of A have benefitted greatly from the close proximity to Mexico and Mexican migration. In California there’s not a corner you can pass without tripping over a Mexican fast food joint.
Founded in 1962, Taco Bell now serves more than 6 billion customers a year in over 6000 locations! That is a lot of Tacos! And I don’t mind telling you that whilst at first I was a bit repelled by the idea, I am one of the many patrons waiting in line for a breakfast burrito to start my day. Well it is mighty difficult to get a full English let me tell you. And don’t even get me started on American bacon.
But Mexicans, they’re not impressed. In the 1990s Taco Bell tried to expand to Mexico and the Mexicans literally laughed it out of business. Taco Bell were undeterred. They tried again in 2007 telling Mexican customers that they sold exactly what was on the US menu and there were no attempts to change the names. So essentially it was an American company, branded in America as selling Mexican cuisine now trying to convince Mexico that it is American food? No wonder the Mexicans were confused.
Maybe a little harsh… I mean, all food is a by-product of evolution in our environment. Had it not been for the Spanish invasion Mexican cuisine would still only consist of bean paste. So let’s be fair and embrace the cheese please!
And there’s a reason why I am being so poignant about my position today. I have a confession that I may have invented the best Mexican inspired dish of evolution to date. Yes, I’ll happily put that claim out there for debate. I present to you dear readers the Jack’s Meat Shack MEXICAN SAUSAGE ROLL.
But seriously, one of my proudest moments was pulling these little bad boys out of the oven so please do give them a try! And we haven’t forgotten the vegans or the healthy folk either. Check out some tasty recipes we have been playing about with this week.