Chef Adán Medrano moves beyond Tex-Mex in search of the Lone Star State’s original indigenous cuisine.
Everyone knows Tex-Mex. Love it or hate it, it’s become ubiquitous in our culture. But is Tex-Mex (and its sister regional cuisine, barbecue) all that exists for Texas foodways? Did nothing exist before the big bang of chili con carne and Velveeta, the anvil in the stomach of the Lone Star State’s culinary legacy?
Absolutely not, says Adán Medrano, the San Antonio born and bred chef whose new cookbook, Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage in Recipes, traces Texas’ foods back 10,000 years. Medrano charts its development from before there was a border — before there was a Mexico, before there was a Texas — to the present. In doing so, he reclaims native foods (squash, corn, cactus) and dispenses of the processed glop that has come to weigh down our combo platters.
Although he omits wild game, open-fire cooking, and offal (the barbacoa progenitor to Texas barbecue), allegedly due to spatial constraints, Medrano’s tome is well-researched and well-illustrated with maps and appetite-stirring photographs of dishes like grilled clams in tequila broth; watermelon canapés with avocado, serrano, and grapes; and a red jalapeño champagne cocktail. Truly Texas Mexican shows us the diversity and joy of Lone Star possibilities through our history and our palates. It is truly a delight.
Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage in Recipes (Texas Tech University Press, 2014) is available at Amazon.com.
From the October 2014 issue.