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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Tex-Mex a term which first became current in the late 1940s, is a border style of cookery blending Mexican dishes with materials and conditions met in the south-western states of the USA. There are other such styles, notably Cal-Mex, though this is thought to be the creation of more recent immigrants, rather than a consequence of survival and mutual assimilation. An analogy from architectural history is buildings in the gothic style in 17th- and 18th-century England: to what extent were they a survival, and how much a revival of the medieval manner? An important Tex-Mex dish, but of very recent vintage, is fajitas; another is chili con carne and the related chilli gravy which accompanies many street foods. Tacos, burritos, and nachos are original Mexican foods which have been altered to suit a different gamut of preferences. Thus nachos are fried tortilla chips or tostadas covered with melted cheese and jalapeño peppers. They were, by repute, developed by a Mexican restaurateur for wives of American airmen based near the town of Coahuila in 1943. What are Mexican street foods, tacos, enchiladas, and tostadas, eaten in the hand, are elaborated for an American market with toppings of cheese and sauce, refried beans, or, perhaps, pepperoni sausage.