Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Authentic Mexican Cuisine

During last weekend’s festivities and travels we stopped off at a fast food chain that serves coffee, you can pick which one. While sitting in the car waiting for the Mrs. to come back out, I saw that next store was a restaurant serving “authentic Mexican cuisine.”

This got me thinking...what exactly constitutes “authentic”? I mean Taco Bell sells Mexican food. Is that authentic? What about the almost endless string of quick service chain restaurants (Chi-Chi’s, Chilis, Chevy’s Azteca, or anything that starts with “Casa”)? Is there fare actually “authentic”? And then of course that brings out the idea of every bar and pub that serves some version of Nachos, including those painful “authentic Irish nachos.” (REALLY!?!)

Well friends, first Nachos are not authentic Mexican, as our friends at Wikipedia point out,

Authentic Mexican food was adapted and Americanized as "Tex Mex" (Texan-Mexican) cuisine. Mexican cuisine has also had a strong influence on the cuisine of the southwest United States and in California where their version of "Tex-Mex" is sometimes called Cal-Mex. Nachos for example are rarely eaten in Mexico, whereas they are widely popular in the rest of the world.

So they aren’t authentic but they are damn good...especially with tuna fish! But moving on....

If much of this food is not authentic, why the constant push to claim authenticity? It almost seems that if you open the latest Casa Maria, (for those of you who remember the establishment on Rt 17 across from Wuvs Hamburgers) you might be better off just saying “Mexican food” on the outside of the sign.

The problem here is actually more of an American epidemic then you might think. See Mexican food is not the only “authentic” food out there. Go Google, “authentic Italian” or “authentic greek” or even “authentic Japanese” and see what happens.

My closing thought, Why can’t we just make food from another culture with out authenticating it? You don’t go over to London or Budapest, or even Ixtapa and find “authentic” American food....although they might be on to something (ala “AmericaTown” on the Simpsons)

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