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    Tex-Mex and Southwestern Cuisine


    Tex-Mex and Southwestern Cuisine

    A question has occurred to me from Alpena's American dishes in a German restaurant, are Tex-Mex and Southwestern Cuisine the same thing? If there is a difference between the two, how would you differentiate the two?

    Feel free to provide recipes or anything else to support your answers.
    Authorsnickerdoodle (262368) 11 Sep 09, 23:27
    *g* Are we getting hungry here?

    One concrete difference I'm aware of is that in New Mexico there are often a lot more green chiles, and the sauces may be correspondingly hotter. And there are slightly different seasonings -- I would place, say, chipotle maybe farther west? Achiote? But maybe I'm thinking more of 'real' Mexican food, from the interior or the coast, as opposed to the north along the border; I'm fuzzy on all this.

    Are you possibly also thinking of black beans and where they belong traditionally? I was thinking maybe even the Caribbean or somewhere, or coastal Mexican, but that's just a guess, and Southwest might also be true.

    I really don't know anything about Arizona food at all. That state has had so much northern immigration that its typical food may now be more like just chain restaurants or spa cuisine, I don't know, but otherwise I would expect it not to be too different from New Mexico.

    To me Southwestern maybe also sounds more, um, nouvelle, fusion, fashionable, healthy, elegant little portions on square plates, black beans, veggies -- while Tex-Mex is more traditional, down-to-earth, inexpensive, cholesterol-laden, huge platters, refried or charro beans, mostly meat and carbs. I like both. (-:

    I'm not much of a cook, so hopefully others can shed more light.

    #1Author hm -- us (236141) 11 Sep 09, 23:49

    Black beans are a staple of Cuban food. I am trying to think of the Caribbean and Floribbean cuisines to remember if they use the black beans very much. I think it might be appear sometimes as a side on the plate but would not be mandatory or appear with every entree.

    When I think of Mexican food I think they use black beans probably not so much in the whole bean state found in Cuban food, but more in refried beans which to me is a mashed form.

    So, Tex-Mex is more a side of cow with some chilis for heat.;-)

    What are charro beans?

    What kinds of chili peppers are used in Tex-Mex?

    Does Tex-Mex have a lot of rice? If so, what type?
    #2Authorsnickerdoodle (262368) 12 Sep 09, 00:02
    I can't offer much in the way of recipes, except for maybe something like pico de gallo: seeded chopped fresh tomato, chopped onion, a little chopped fresh jalapeño, chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice; mix well, refrigerate, eat within 2-3 days. (Or plan B: buy it fresh at the supermarket.) Useful in omelets or scrambled eggs, on nachos, as a garnish or as a snack with chips (variant: less tomato, more black beans, corn, a little red/yellow bell pepper). For a quick vegetarian lunch, you can mix it in with black beans (canned is fine) and rice.

    >>What are charro beans?

    The same kind you use for refried beans, but not squished, just served in their own liquid, maybe with a little chopped onion and jalapeño, a little bacon or salt pork in the pot, salt, maybe garlic & other seasonings. Not really kidney beans, BTW, I think those are longer and redder, but similar.

    >>What kinds of chili peppers are used in Tex-Mex?

    Mostly jalapeño, jalapeño, and jalapeño. (-:

    No, sometimes serrano, and for chile rellenos, poblano (also typical farther west).

    related discussion: green pepper - grüner Paprika
    related discussion: paprika
    related discussion: chilischote

    >>Does Tex-Mex have a lot of rice? If so, what type?

    Uncle Ben's? (-:

    No, seriously, in school cafeterias we used to have something called Spanish rice that was made with tomato sauce, but I'm not sure that's authentic. It does need to be seasoned, not just plain white, but you might need a cook to say how.

    Hopefully other people will have better ideas.

    #3Author hm -- us (236141) 12 Sep 09, 01:25
    Okay, your recipe for pico de gallo looks a lot like the ingredients for salsa. What is the difference between the two?

    The refried beans I usually see have black beans as a base. Is that the most common bean used for charro beans?

    I think the red beans you are talking about are called pinto beans which sometimes I put into chili, but I can do that because I am not a Texan.;-)

    When I was in college one night at dinner I was speaking with a Mexican-American from Texas and said I did not really like a particular Mexican food. She asked where I had the food and of course it was only in the cafeteria. The person said that was not a good reason to say that I did not like Mexican food. She asked me what I would think of meatloaf if the cafeteria was my only impression of meatloaf. The meatloaf was not very tasty or close to what my mom or my friend's mom would serve. She then explained what was served as Mexican fare in the cafeteria was not very good and should not be used as a measuring stick of Mexican cuisine. Touche.
    #4Authorsnickerdoodle (262368) 12 Sep 09, 01:38
    Neither holds a candle to Cal-Mex; Por ejemplo:
    Let me know when you're in San José next; I'll treat.
    #5Author Martin--cal (272273) 12 Sep 09, 05:27
    Martin--cal, the Cal-Mex does look and sound extremely delicious. I didn't realize that jicama was used in Mexican cooking, is that from the Cal part of the Cal-Mex. I usually have seen a fair amount of jicama in South Florida. I am a little jealous of you now because you can zip over there for some of these dishes. I am very willing to take you up on the offer of a trip to this or a similar restaurant if I find myself in the neighborhood.
    #6Authorsnickerdoodle (262368) 12 Sep 09, 21:50
    I don't know which side of the border jicama started being used on. I know I use it (in my renowned Huey-Dewey-Ratatouille), and I'd use it more if I could only peel it without wrecking my wimpy potato peeler.

    We're do go to Aqui's fairly often - it's one of our favorites - and it would be a pleasure to introduce you to it.
    #7Author Martin--cal (272273) 13 Sep 09, 02:23
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