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September 26, 2023

Redefining Tex-Mex: Exploring the history and new terms of Texas-Mexican food

By: Mando Rayo

Join us for a one-on-one conversation with chef, food writer, and filmmaker Adán Medrano. Adán is on a mission to set the record straight on what Tex-Mex is and what it isn’t. He’ll walk us through the history, recipes, and research on how we define “Texas”, “Mexican”, and the Indigenous beginnings that started it all.

The full transcript of this episode of Tacos of Texas is available on the KUT & KUTX Studio website. The transcript is also available as subtitles or captions on some podcast apps.

Intro Saludos. My name is Álvaro Del Norte, and I am the lead singer and accordion player for Piñata Protest. To me, tacos sound like being at Market Square during Fiesta in downtown San Antonio, where the sounds of chatter are all around me as I wait in line for my tacos from a food stand. It’s the rumble of a thundering polka beat being played by the Conjunto band on a stage nearby. It’s the whimsical notes of the accordion that seemed to float around in the soft and warm breeze. It’s the roar of a crowd applauding at the end of a song. A crowd who just wants to keep on dancing. This is Álvaro Del Norte and you’re listening to Tacos of Texas on KUT.

Mando Rayo [singing] Hey baby, qué paso? [music starts] Thought I was your only taco. [intro music begins] What’s up, taco world? I’m taco journalist Mando Rayo and welcome to the Tacos of Texas podcast season tres, tres, tres produced by Identity Productions in partnership with KUT and KUTX Studios. And we’re back exploring taco culture in Texas through the eyes of the people in the Lone Star State. So watch out for that shh hot plate hot plate shh and get ready for some muy tasty taco conversations. [music] In today’s episode of Tacos of Texas, we are redefining Tex-Mex with chef food writer and filmmaker Adán Medrano. Adán is on a mission to set the record straight on what Tex-Mex is versus what it isn’t. He’ll walk us through recipes, his research to define Texas-Mexican and the Indigenous beginnings that started it all. What do you think when somebody says Tex-Mex? Maybe the sizzling fajitas, two margs, flour tortillas, lots of yellow cheese and sour cream. And, you know, unfortunately, yeah maybe some some greasy foods. Right. So what is Tex-Mex? In a New York Times article, our guest Adán Medrano explains that Tex-Mex began in the early 1900s when local Mexican American homecooking was first adapted in restaurants run by anglos for anglos. He says that in the 1970s, writers started calling Tex-Mex food that included refried beans as smooth as pancake batter, chili made with powdered spices in stock and extra cheese on everything. In the late 1800s, there was a group of women in San Antonio that sold carne con  chili in the open air stands in the plazas across town. They were given the name the Texas Chili Queens. An article in the Journal of the Life and Culture of San Antonio of the University of the Incarnate Word, says that these women were mostly young and Hispanic and that over the years, the chili queens became the forerunners of today’s nationwide Tex-Mex food industry. Both the chili queens and chili powder played a big role in getting Tex-Mex cooking on a national stage because they had to stand in the 1893 World’s Fair Chicago. The chili powder was made by Willie Gebhardt, a German immigrant and restaurant owner that lived in New Braunfels, who would travel down to San Antonio on his days off. A HubPage’s entry points out that the city’s eclectic culture and foods of Native Americans and Mexicans caught his culinary eye and that he especially enjoyed spicy Mexican foods. Gebhardt started serving chili to his customers, and in his efforts to provide chili year round, he quote unquote, “discovered that driving peppers and grinding them to a powder would keep them fresh for months at a time.” Now, that sounds like a technique that was already discovered to me. The entry also states that in order to promote his chili powder nationwide, Gebhardt published a cookbook to educate the public on Mexican food. I mean, there was a Gebhardt commercial in the eighties that literally says Gebhardt has made more Mexican food of more kinds for a longer period of time than anyone else in the world. All while a camera floats through a sea of canned foods and seasoning packets. You know what I have to say about that? No mames. San Antonio Magazine writes that in 1900, a Chicago businessman named Otis Farnsworth opened The Original Mexican restaurant near Alamo Plaza. It was literally called that The Original Mexican restaurant. He’d been visiting places on the West Side that served call me the Cassata, and saw an opportunity to sell similar food to non-Mexican clientele. Are you sensing a pattern here? The San Antonio Magazine article says that Anglos simplified the time consuming home recipes to use only a few chilies while focusing on frying and often incorporating lots of then-new invention process melting yellow cheese. This trend caught on in both white and Mexican-American restaurants, making Tex-Mex more and more popular and eventually leading to, as the article says, a cultural mix that got interesting during the mid-twentieth century as children of immigrants who arrived during the Mexican Revolution came to enjoy many of these restaurant dishes and began creating their own versions of them at home. And finally, we arrive at the writers from the 1970s. There were several writers involved, but History.com explains that Diana Kennedy inadvertently turned Tex-Mex into its own regional cuisine as she made a clear distinction between, quote, “authentic Mexican food served in Mexico and the stuff served north of the border.” She was making that distinction with the subjects that Mexican food was superior. The New York Times clarifies that today’s guest Adán Medrano feels that Tex-Mex is a cuisine that should be respected and celebrated. It’s just that Tex-Mex standards like queso and combo fajitas piled high with chicken and shrimp doesn’t speak of home to those whose Texas roots go back some 12,000 years. And that’s what we’re diving into today. The roots of truly Texas Mexican food. [music] [crunch sound effect] Oh, it’s taco time. And now here’s a word from our sponsors. From me. [crunch sound effect] Vamos a Chuco Town con Visit El Paso. It’s the hometown of this taco journalist. El Paso’s historic Mission Trail was chosen as the winner of best historical site in Texas, recognized by the 2023 Texas Travel Awards. The Texas Travel Awards recognizes and celebrates top travel destinations and attractions across the Lone Star State. The historic trail dates to the 17th and 18th centuries and includes the Ysleta mission, Socorro Mission, and the San Ysidro Chapel, the oldest churches in the state of Texas. To commemorate their history, all three missions were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Along the nine mile trail, visitors can enjoy a variety of museums, galleries, small business and over 400 years of history. Collaboration across several nonprofit entities helped the El Paso Mission Trail become a designated national historic trail in 2000. Once again, the collaboration between entrepreneurs, artists, local government, nonprofits and the missions has spurred the opening and restoration of businesses and buildings in Socorro. Muchas gracias to our friends that visit El Paso for sponsoring this podcast episode. Follow Visit El Paso on Instagram and Facebook at Visit El Paso or on their website at Visit El Paso dot com. [crunch sound effect] No fees equals more tacos at Amplify Credit Union. With fee free banking at Amplify, you’ll never pay another account fee, overdraft fee or transfer fee ever again. And no fees means un poquito mas de sabor. It’s not a bank, it’s a credit union. And their goal is to remove the obstacles that stand between their members and financial success. So they turned off all their bank fees. Because it’s not just about giving back. Sometimes it’s about not taking in the first place. And you know what? Amplify is the first financial institution in Texas to put an end to bank fees. Amplify charges $0 in overdraft fees. That’s right. Zero. Amplify offers fee free banking to both personal and business members. To learn more, go to go amplify dot com slash tacos. [music] Our guest today is Adán Medrano, chef, a food writer and filmmaker. Adán is the author of several culinary books like Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage in Recipes, which was a Book of the Year finalist by Forward Reviews. Adán is also an award winning filmmaker who founded San Antonio’s CineFestival, the first and now longest running Latino film festival in the U.S.. Most recently, Adán hosted the Encuentro Food Conference in Houston, which we were able to attend. Be sure to look out for our Inside Encuentro episode. Today, Adán is here to help us redefine what we know as Tex-Mex food. Adán, welcome to the Tacos of Texas podcast. We’re really excited to be talking to you today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Adán Medrano Mando, thank you for inviting me. I’m very glad to be here. I am a native of San Antonio, Texas, and Nava, Coahuila, and I love to cook. I write about the roots of Texas Mexican food, which are Native, and I hope that in my cookbooks I’m making a lot of people get smiles from eating the delicious food, which is in my first book, really not mine. It’s the treasures of all of our community.

Mando Rayo That’s beautiful. So let’s start with kind of at the basics. What is Tex-Mex food?

Adán Medrano What a good question. I would like to ask that as well. And I think that those restaurant owners who have chosen to call their restaurants Tex-Mex should answer that question. They have an opportunity to say what it is. From my perspective, after listening to some of them, I think that the premise of what they think Tex-Mex, their food is, is not correct history. First of all, let me say that to make a distinction about various foods is not to disparage the foods.

Mando Rayo No, not at all.

Adán Medrano It’s to learn about the foods. What I hear these restaurant owners say about their Tex-Mex restaurants and by the way, there are not very many of them. There’s Chuy’s, Super Rica in Houston, Candente in Houston. There’s only very few restaurants that if you see their sign, if you see their menus, they have Tex-Mex. So those few of them, I would ask them, what is Tex-Mex? What I have heard is that Tex-Mex is the traditions of south of the Rio Grande, this south of the border. Mexico. And they were traditions that were reinterpreted north of the border by Texans, Anglo Texans. And thus this food called Tex-Mex was created. It’s a reinterpretation of the Mexican food that south of the border. And then it came north and it was reinterpreted in an Anglo esthetic. To me, that’s what they say. I hope I’m hearing them correctly. Yeah, but I say they should talk about themselves. I don’t represent. So what is wrong with that history is that that the food that they refer to as having reinterpreted was not south of the border. It was north of the border. Everything that is comprised in the combination plates has been north of the border for hundreds of years. And so that part of the history, understanding that Mexicans we all came from south of the border over the river is just not right. It’s incorrect. It’s bad history. We were north of the river long before it was a border. So I would say that’s an issue that needs to be talked about more. I would follow Lesley Brenner, who was the restaurant critic for the Dallas Morning News for, gosh, I think over 14 years. And she wrote recently that those who choose to call themselves Tex-Mex must reckon with the original sin of Tex-Mex. Because if you look at the food of Tex-Mex, it is a copy of Texas Mexican food. It is a copy of the women chefs who in San Antonio in the late 1900s and 1800s, were cooking what I call Camino de Castro of Mexican-American families. They were cooking enchiladas, tamales, and they were doing so in open air stands in the middle of the city in this urban center. And they became so popular, it was so delicious that Anglo owners began to copy it. And they were able, because they had access to capital, have brick and mortar restaurants. And so in I think it’s 1910 or so you have in San Antonio, the first restaurant that is brick and mortar, and it calls itself the original Mexican restaurant, and it is run by Otis Farnsworth. And as I say, he copied what the women were doing because he knew it was so successful, so Tex-Mex, as far as I can see, the history is a copy of the Texas Mexican traditions, and it resulted from running out the women’s chefs who originally had cooked it in the urban center of San Antonio.

Mando Rayo Would you define that as well as an original sin of what was done to kind of copy the Mexican food and in a sense have a different interpretation?

Adán Medrano The original sin, as Leslie Brenner describes it, is Tex-Mex was born only by driving out the women chefs who were responsible for introducing this food to the urban centers with their stands. They were run out of the urban city center. They were called dirty. They had to contend with animosity. And by 1947, all of them were gone. And by that time, you were seeing the rise of Tex-Mex restaurants, brick and mortar, serving copies of their food with the understanding that it was Mexican. And so that is what the original sin is, that it is borne out of the suffering of Mexican women, native chefs in San Antonio.

Mando Rayo You know, I think what I’ve been hearing, you know, from you through your books and your film is this new term, Texas Mexican. And so tell me, what spurred, what inspired you, to come up with this new way of classifying the foods that we have here in Texas?

Adán Medrano I coined the term Texas Mexican when I wrote my first book in 2014, Truly Texas Mexican. And the term actually has been used since 25 years ago. It started because it means that we Mexican Americans who live in Texas are like the Native Americans who are in Mexico. You have Oaxaca Mexican food and it’s based on the Native histories and the aesthetic and palate. And then you have Pueblo Mexican, Texas Mexican. We are another expression of Native Americans of this Central American and North American part of the world. And so I thought it was easy to just say, I’m a Texas Mexican. I’m just like you, Oaxacan Mexican, you you’re a Mexico City Mexican. You’re. It was just very natural to me. And then I, I realized by reading that the geographers were using it in academic textbooks long before I used it. Texas Mexican is a term that you will find in academic reporting of the Mexican American community. So it’s an easy term, it simply it means that we’re Mexicans from Texas.

Mando Rayo Yeah.

Adán Medrano Mexicans from Oaxaca, Mexicans from Mexico City and so forth, as I said. So in a sense, the reason that I felt I could not use Tex-Mex because when I looked at what people thought Tex-Mex to be and what I grew up eating, I could not identify with Chuy’s, with Super Rica. It just wasn’t my food. And this is not to say that’s bad food. This is simply to say, I didn’t want the confusion. Don’t tell me that is my food. I don’t want to have to explain to you why that’s not my food. Let me explain my food so that I can share it with you. And we can, we can enjoy something that’s very delicious. Basically, our comida caseta, which means home cooking of Mexican American families was invisible in the public discourse because the term Tex-Mex took over. And so I would say one thing on this podcast, which I would direct to food writers, and I would say, Dear food writers, before you label a restaurant’s food Tex-Mex. Ask the restaurant owner if it’s okay. Ask the cooks in the kitchen if they want to be called Tex-Mex. The ones I have visited and everyone that I write about in my book and in my articles to a person, they will say, I am not Tex-Mex. And so you will see that today in magazines and in newspapers. You will have a review of a restaurant and you go to the restaurant if you see it, and the sign says Mexican food and you go to their menu and it says Mexican plate. There is not a single word in there about Tex-Mex. But when the food writers write about it, they call it Tex-Mex. Food writers, please relook at that. And I urge us to think more, which is why we held the Encuentro. The Encuentro, we invited top food writers from across the region and the nation, and they came and it was a wonderful space to rethink and reimagine. What have we been doing as food writers to this people and this food that has made it invisible? Everybody loses in that way.

Mando Rayo I mentioned earlier, going to Encuentro, to your food conference. It was pretty eye opening, connecting not only scholars and history, but to the food as well. And so let’s talk a little bit about the Texas Mexican dishes. What are some of those Indigenous cooking methods? What are some of the house dishes that, you know, people can think of? Like, oh, this is Texas Mexican?

Adán Medrano That’s a good question. I would say, first of all, if you can imagine the map of South Texas, then the Rio Grande, then you go down south to Mexico, Mexico City, if you can imagine that map down south, you have Oaxaca, and that’s south. Oaxaca is very known for moles and other seafoods. And it is it is born of a native people, is called the Noah, and it’s Oaxaca, Mexican food. If you go up Pueblo, Pueblo Mexican food, I’m repeating what I had said earlier, but visually, as you keep going up, you have Texas Mexican food. Texas Mexican food is simply another regional expression of the larger Mexican gastronomy. And the reason it resembles with use of chocolate and roasted chilies and Oaxaca and the other regions is because all of us were in constant communication for thousands of years. And so therefore, we shared recipes all the way from St Louis, from from Texas down to Oaxaca and beyond. This was a very cosmopolitan region, and some of the characteristics of this food are, number one, we privilege roast. We like roast. Steaming. Frying is a new invention that came with colonization that is not very traditional, although Tex-Mex is known for for all they’re frying. And I would say if you were to look at how the Encuentro chefs, there were ten chefs that I invited to come to Encuentro and to cook their specialty dishes. You asked me what is a typical dish that explains Tex-Mex, and I want to go there by first saying what I mean Texas Mexican, knowing that, yes, I want to go there. I want to go there by first saying that what Encuentro did by inviting these chefs to cook is I said to them, don’t just cook. Tell the story. You will be asked to stand up and tell the story, Tell where it came from, tell what is why, Why is it meaningful to you? Why do you have such passion for it? And what emerged when each of the chefs, before we tasted their dish, explained it, they said, this is one of them said, This is from my my father. He used to mole de asada out on the beach and it was a way for him to show tenderness. Another chef said that. And each of them said a story about the food that really made us see that our food carries within it the true story of who we really are because it invokes identity, it evokes memories of our ancestors, and it makes us understand that we are Mexican-American community of this land. One of the chefs cooking quail, he was, he’s from Laredo, chef Bobby Gonzalez. He took the quail and he cold smoked it. And then roasted it. This particular way of cooking quail is over 10,000 years old. There is there’s a there’s an archeological site north of Austin called the Gault archeological site. And it’s a school now. And they have found remains of quail ten thousand years ago. Quail has been in Texas 40,000 years. And they also found at the Gault site burnt bones of birds and of frogs. So we know that they roasted them. And today, 10,000 years later, for chef Bobby Gonzalez from Laredo to present us with a contemporary delicious way of cooking quail, that is the same that our ancestors cooked 10,000 years ago is amazing to me. There was a very beautiful moment. So roasting and using the ingredients that have been here for thousands of years is part of what it means to be Texas Mexican. Texas Mexican. It was local and seasonal long before those two words were trendy among foodies.

Mando Rayo Foodies and food writers and all that. They want such a simplistic view over like a whole culture, right, of our foods and that history. How can we engage in that conversation when sometimes they want those simplistic answers?

Adán Medrano Such a great question, this wanting everything to be in black and white and fast and quick. There’s a larger cultural question of our of our society and certainly of Texas, where in Texas right now, in order to understand the immigration problem, it’s those invaders coming in and very simplistic one liners. I consider myself to be a food writer that does in my writing, a sandwich. If I want to talk about, let’s say, enchiladas in a certain restaurant where I describe them. First, I would add the origins of the tradition, and then I would tell what I tasted, how it tasted, the ingredients, the cooks, how they cooked it. What Dr. Mario Montaño calls precious writing. There’s a lot of it, like Texas Monthly, a lot of these. It’s precious writing about food. The sauce was velvety and the color was beautiful. And that that type. I do that. And then after I have first with the front of the sandwich, which is the little bit of history and where it came from. And then after I do that, a description of the flavors and the colors which people will want to know. Then I finish it by saying, How does it function? How does it deploy itself within the community in terms of meaning making? And by that, I mean if you if you go to a restaurant that calls itself Mexican. But writers call it Tex-Mex. You will invariably find that the conversation goes into, Oh, this reminds me of my wedding. This mole is the same mole we had in my wedding. The food has as a function of of recognizing that it’s deployed within a community and the community becomes stronger by it. And I think that’s part of it. I would say sandwich the food by first saying a little bit about its history, its true history. Not. A lot of the Tex-Mex history, as I said at the start of this, is incorrect history. The reason that Encuentro had these top scholars whose qualifications are impeccable is because more of us need to find out about the humanities. Encuentro received a major grant from Humanities Texas, which is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. They recognize that what we were doing is bringing the humanities to a larger audience. If we want to understand the border better, if we want to understand immigration better, if we understand trans people better, we can get light and understanding by going to the humanities and the studies and the real histories that are out there, not some made up one liner. And so I would also urge all of us, and especially food writers to partner with art and with really good food scholars whom you know, to be trusted and I would say partner also with the chefs who came to the Encuentro  like them. There are many more. If you were to talk to them, they would be able to tell you what the meaning of the food is. And I think that everyone will have a more delicious meal. I really am convinced that people want a full, full meal. They just, you know, intellectually delicious as well.

Mando Rayo And, you know, to be honest, like, you know, what you’re talking about are that to me, like I said, I write that that we know from home. And so this attention to the mujeres that cooked for many years and then were, I would say, ostracized and pushed out of kitchens, I feel like, you know, what you’re trying to do is reconnect with that.

Adán Medrano I’m reporting what is happening in the intimacy of the cocinas, the kitchens and homes of Mexican-American families throughout Texas, south Texas and northeastern Mexico. It’s actually happening in Chicago as well and in the places where we have moved to, and that is that this food, comida casera, home cooking has been what has sustained the memory of who we are, what our identity is, and it has been the way that we can truly celebrate the richness of our culture. We know comida casera is not specific to us. Many comida caseras, I mean the Appalachian. Take Appalachia for example. They have home cooking that if you go to the poor areas you will find that this is a source of joy. And so I think we share this with many other cultures.

Mando Rayo I think part of it is thinking about how we talk about it, but also allowing those people that are cooking it to talk about it versus food writers or people that are maybe new to the culture. I love what you said earlier, like ask them what they consider their food is.

Adán Medrano I would say ask them to tell the story and then tell the story. Don’t ask them to categorize. Don’t ask them to fit into the mold of how you see food. Ask them. Tell the story. If you’re a food writer, you’re going to tell a story. Tell the story about the food. Trying to categorize us has always been a tool of colonization to strip us of power, the power that our storytelling has. If you label us as Mexican-American, as Hispanics, as pan Americans, as all of this attempt to labeling is not what you hear in the kitchens. I would say what happened at the Encuentro is we found that storytelling is inextricably bound with cooking. And I think that’s a very beautiful thing. [music]

Mando Rayo [crunch sound effect] Oh, it’s taco time. And now here’s a word from our sponsors from me.[crunch sound effect] Located deep in the heart of South Texas, Laredo is the beginning of the Lone Star State and the travel experience that is American, Texan and Mexican all in one. This location lends itself to a perfect blend of culture, language, culinary influence and ambiance that can only be found in deep in the heart of South Texas. This small Spanish villa was founded in 1755 on the banks of the Rio Grande. Walk around the historic downtown and discover landmarks that are significant for both Laredo and Texas history. Some landmarks include San Agustín Plaza, Republic of the Rio Grande Museum and San Agustín Cathedral. Laredo’s warm weather creates a perfect ambiance for a weekend of fun and relaxation. Mexican, Tex-Mex and just about anything else has a Laredo flair that sets it apart. So come for the authentic Mexican food and stay for the flavors. Whatever you crave, you’re sure to find an amazing array of enticing selections. Muchas gracias to our friends at Visit Laredo for sponsoring this podcast episode. Follow Visit Laredo on Instagram and Facebook at Visit Laredo Texas or on their website w-w-w dot visit Laredo dot com. [music] We’ve been talking to Adán Medrano, chef, food writer and filmmaker in the virtual studio today. Our topic has been redefining Tex-Mex. Adán, let’s talk about the stories that you’re telling through the film and books. So you have your documentary, The Truly Texas Mexican. You have your books: Don’t Count the Tortillas, you Truly Texas Mexican book. You know, namesake for the film as well. What is it that you’re trying to do with a lot of those stories, not only with the food but with the people behind it?

Adán Medrano Thank you for asking that. To me, I start by having a passion for telling a story that has not been told in the public imagination, and that is the story of our cultural resistance to colonization over 500 years. What drives me and the reason I wrote the first book and then the second one and the movie is I want to amplify and be faithful to the stories that I hear in our and in el centro de la familia in the spaces of our families, because those stories have sustained us through dispossession, through lack of political power, through murder. If you read some of these recent books that have documented how lynching was a common pastime in South Texas by the Texas Rangers, I mean, in the intimacy of our homes, women kept alive who we were by feeding us ingredients, techniques, flavor profiles, palette flavors that resonate through your palate throughout your body, that evoke our strong traditions. And they kept that alive in a way that’s joyful and celebrated. And that’s what I am trying to bring out into the open. Not that I created it. If you go into any of the families in West Side, San Antonio, Eastern Houston, or down the valley, this is strong. When I previewed the film and it first came out, it was hugely successful for an independent film. We’ve now had over 1 million verified viewers of that. For an independent film, that is a lot.

Mando Rayo I think people are like literally hungry for it, hungry for this connection. This this representation, it’s super important. I think you are doing a big service and talking to media and magazines to tell that story. And I see what you’re doing is honoring those stories and the people.

Adán Medrano Thank you for saying that. I do think that’s very, very true. I think the reason that the film had such a big, big impact is that it tapped into an experience of the grassroots communities. I’m not bringing the experience out so you can see it. I’m simply reporting and making present what is already there. And so Mexican-American communities saw it and they recognize themselves in it. And I like to think that the more that more of us tell the stories that are there but not known, the stronger our community becomes because we become more courageous, more valiant. And to continue telling the stories, knowing that we are not alone in that experience.

Mando Rayo Beautifully said. Beautifully said. Well, Adán thank you so much for being on the program. I really do appreciate it. And I know I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for a few years. I’m glad we were able to connect. And thank you so much for being on the show.

Adán Medrano Thank you very much Mando for having me.

Mando Rayo I appreciate you. We’ll see you out there.

Adán Medrano Bye.

Mando Rayo [music] So there you have it, mi gente. Tex-Mex is a very different style of food from Texas Mexican. While each cuisine has its own place in our vast landscape, it’s important to note that this region has roots that go back before there were any borders. And it’s important to remember that the erasure of women in kitchens is tied to what we know as Tex-Mex. Special thanks to our guest, Adán Medrano. You can learn more about his work at Adán Medrano dot com. And if you’re looking for recipes of these regional foods, pick up a copy of Truly Texas Mexican and Don’t Count the Tortillas by Adán Medrano at your local bookstore or online retailers. Some of my favorite Texas Mexican recipes include albóndiga s de chile ancho con nopalitos, chilaquiles con chile guajillo and consommé de conejo. This has been the Tacos of Texas podcast developed and produced by Identity Productions. If you enjoyed today’s episode and are craving more taco content, go to our website at w-w-w dot Identity dot Productions or follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube at Identity Productions and United Tacos of America. This is your host, a Texas Mexicano, Mando Rayo. Vamos a los tacos. On the next próximo Tacos of Texas: salsa magic. A taco is only as good as the salsa that tops it. We talk chiles, salsas, and even makes some of our own.

Outro The Tacos of Texas podcast is presented by Identity Productions in partnership with KUT and KUTX Studios. Our host and producer is Mando Rayo. Our audio is mixed by Nicholas Worthen and Ever Calderon. Our story producer is me, Sharon Arteaga, and our creative producer is Denis Burnett. Music was created by Peligrosa in Austin, Texas, and King Benny Productions, located in the Quinto barrio of Houston.

This transcript was transcribed by AI, and lightly edited by a human. Accuracy may vary. This text may be revised in the future.


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In this episode, we talk to Dr. Meredith E. Abarca about putting together her online archive El Paso Food Voices. Author and blogger Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack shares how she has used her cookbooks as a way to archive her family’s recipes.


October 10, 2023

Inside Houston’s Encuentro: The Native American Roots of Texas Mexican Food

The complex cuisine of Texas goes back before the land was known as either Texas or Mexico. In this episode, we visit Houston’s two-day, anthropologic culinary event Encuentro. We learn about the Native American roots of Texas Mexican food from both scholars and chefs present at the event.


October 3, 2023

Salsa Magic

This episode includes a breakdown of the salsas that complete our favorite tacos, from taqueria style, to hot sauces. It includes the science of peppers to a local hot sauce brand’s origins. Then we’ll go into my home kitchen to make one of my favorite salsas and how to pair them up with your favorite tacos.