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  • oldgringo 6 years ago
    A Texan Remembers Tex-Mex Food

    The first Mexican restaurant to open in this country, opened in 1899. It was the Mexican Original Restaurant on Losoya Street along the San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas. It was owned by the Farnsworth family and remained in business until the 1960's. I was born in 1936, and I ate there over a period of twenty years. I can remember my grandmother, first taking me to this restaurant when I had to sit on a stack of telephone books or a special children's box to be able to reach the table. I remember her buttering and salting a warm corn tortilla, made fresh in the restaurant kitchen, and rolling it up for me to eat. I still eat corn tortillas the way she taught me.

    The food was all pure Tex-Mex. The cheese enchiladas had a wonderful brownish red flour-roux, ancho chile sauce unlike any other I have ever tasted. The refried beans and the rice were very authentic without many of the substances added today. The tamales norteƱos were small and contained a wonderful pork filling. The smaller but delicious, Tex-Mex tamal is derived from the tamales made in Coahuila and Chihuahua, Mexico. The whole menu was excellent and never altered with passing fads. The nearest tomato sauce and sour cream was 1700 miles away in California.

    During my growing years, the streets of San Antonio, had vendors selling tamales, tacos, chalupas, etc. The farmers market drew thousands of tourist and residents alike because it was modeled after Mexican markets of Mexico and contained many items from South Texas, the Rio Grande Valley and Mexico. The city fathers of San Antonio, closed down the street vendors for "health" reasons and used federal money to "modernize" the market. The wonderful food prepared by those street vendors, whom they called the "Tortilla Marys" and the authentic Mexican market have disappeared forever. While it lasted it was a fabulous Tex-Mex food source.

    Tamales are still homemade and sold by exceptionally good cooks in San Antonio and around the state of Texas, where Tex-Mex food is popular. There is very few places that still serve the original wonderful cuisine unadulterated by current food propagandist trying to fix something that was never broken. The last great Mexican Restaurant in Houston, was the Old Mexico on West Gray. It closed in the late 60's or early 70's.

    For most of my life, I could go into any small cafe in Texas and order a "Bowl of Red", which was Tex-Mex Chili, served with crackers. If Texas has a "national" dish, this is it. This is a wonderful combination of coarsely ground chili beef in a sauce of chiles and spices, NEVER tomatoes. This dish was derived from original Chili con Carne, South of the border in Northern Mexico. I still use the same recipe and chili powder, I have used for over 50 years. The chili powder started out as "Eagle Brand Chili Powder" and later became the current "Gebhardt's Chili Powder." The coarse ground chili beef was a special blend of lean beef, beef fat and gristled beef cuts. No Texan ever uses ground meat to cook authentic Tex-Mex Chili. Beans are always served as a side dish or added to the chili at the table. Beans and chili are never cooked together.

    Tex-Mex cuisine grew as Texas grew deriving wonderful food and recipes from Northern Mexico, and along the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. It has truly established itself as a unique cuisine of the United States.

    Richard McGaffey
  • oldgringo 6 years ago
    Proud to become your cookin' buddy! Great place to share recipes and make new friends.

    oldgringo, Richard