The history of TexMex cuisine

You live in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or anywhere else in Texas and you love TexMex cuisine. That makes you a bona fide ‘chili head’. TexMex food is the specialty in these parts and it has quite the history!

The term “TexMex” first entered the common lexicon as a nickname for the Texas-Mexican railroad, chartered in 1875. Train schedules, published in newspapers, abbreviated the names of railroads. For example, the Missouri Pacific became the Mo. called Pac. and the Texas-Mexican was abbreviated Tex. mex. It was in the 1920s that the hyphenated form was used in reference to the railroad and to describe people of Mexican descent who were born in Texas.

Food historians claim that the first printed evidence of “TexMex” related to food was in 1945. From there, TexMex restaurants slowly popped up outside the U.S. Southwest in cities with significant Hispanic populations. Then TexMex went “gourmet”. In the 1970s, Mexican culinary expert Diana Kennedy is credited with taking this common and trendy food and creating a new “must-eat” cuisine for a younger generation.

What exactly is TexMex cuisine?

Several hundred years ago, during the mission era, Spanish and Mexican-Indian dishes combined Anglo cuisine in Texas, as it did in other parts of what was called New Spain’s northern frontier. It was this kitchen that would eventually be called TexMex. The cuisine actually originated with the Texans of Spanish descent or Tejanos, as a hybrid of Spanish and Mexican-Indian food when Texas was still part of New Spain and later Mexico.

Served at dining tables in the South Texas region, between San Antonio and Brownsville, this cuisine has varied little since its earliest origins and was heavily influenced by cuisine in Mexico’s neighboring northern states. Originally, TexMex began with a penchant for cabrito (goat), barbacoa (barbecued cow’s heads), carne seca (dried beef), and other livestock products common on both sides of the Rio Grande at the time.

TexMex contains ingredients that are common in Mexican cuisine, although often unknown ones are added in Mexico. This cuisine is also characterized by the extensive use of meat (especially beef), beans and spices, in addition to Mexican-style tortillas (corn or flour), baked or fried. Nachos, crispy tacos, crispy chalupas, chili con queso, chili con carne, chili gravy, and fajitas are all TexMex inventions.

Serving tortilla chips and a hot sauce or salsa as an appetizer is also an original TexMex dish. In addition, TexMex has imported flavors from other spicy cuisines, such as using cumin (common in Indian food), but used in only a few authentic Mexican recipes. In the 20th century, TexMex adopted elements such as yellow cheese from the United States as it became cheap and readily available.

The cuisine evolved in Mexican restaurants in the 1950s, the popularity of which coincided with the arrival of large numbers of Mexican immigrants and created the style of TexMex food, the blend of Northern Mexican farm food with Texas farm and cowboy dishes. Chili was unknown in Mexico and derived from the use of beef in Texas cooking. Fried beans were a mistranslation of the Mexican dish, frijoles refritos, which actually means fried beans.

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Then came the combo platters, packed with enchiladas, tacos, and tortillas, which have now become the standard of the Tex-Mex menu. New dishes, such as chimichangas and nachos, were created to please the American palate. One of the most successful ethnic TexMex dishes to date is the fajita

I want Taco Bell!

The food community began referring to Americanized Mexican food as “TexMex,” a term previously used to describe anything half-Texan and half-Mexican. Texas-Mexican restaurant owners took it as an insult. Yet this insult led to many successes. To the rest of the world, TexMex had mirrored the wilder, untamed parts of Texas. It conjured up images of canteens, cowboys and the Wild West. Dozens of Tex-Mex restaurants sprang up in Paris and across Europe, as far as Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Abu Dhabi.

Tortilla chips, margaritas and chili con carne are now well-known TexMex products around the world. The cuisine can be found in many independent restaurants and chain restaurants in the state of Texas and throughout the country. TexMex chain restaurants include Chili’s, Ninfa’s, Casa Olé, Chuy’s, El Fenix, El Chico, and Taco Cabana. While Chili’s serves some TexMex products, it is considered more southwestern cuisine. And, of course, there’s the ubiquitous Taco Bell; a conglomerate of fast food versions of Mexican and TexMex dishes, owned by Yum! Brands, Inc., based in Louisville, KY.

If you like spicy dishes, you will enjoy the variety of entrees that TexMex cuisine offers. But as good as TexMex is, it should be everything in moderation. Because, as you will discover, what you put into your body now will affect your health later. And your health, good or bad, ultimately affects your bank account. So if you’re a young adult watching what you consume and trying to maintain a healthy fitness, check out the revolutionary, comprehensive and highly affordable individual health insurance solutions that Precedent has created just for you. Visit us for more information on our website, []. We offer a unique and innovative suite of individual health insurance solutions, including highly competitive HSA qualified plans and an unparalleled real-time application and underwriting experience.