Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hamburgers vs. Fajitas

So today one of my roommates, Shaffer, comes into the room and examines his Chinese take-out box. He asks the question many of us have often wondered...

"Why is all Asian food better than American food?"

The conclusion this eventually leads to is that American food sucks, namely those foods native to the Anglo-American culture. Another roommate, Jacob, begins to test this assertion by naming good "American" foods, defending the honor of America. Eventually he comes up with the Hamburger.

Now aside from the obvious fact that Hamburg is in Germany, and therefore this probably cannot be considered an American food, the argument rested on the assumption that America had perfected and spread this simple culinary marvel. My response to him?

"Mexicans make better burgers."

His response.

"Out of what, goat? Are you talking about Mexicans or South Texans?"

I responded, "South Texans. Mexicans with resources."

This got me thinking about a lot of things, namely what Mexicans do with the few resources they have. Once, traveling in a lesser known border town, I was taken to the freshly painted, pepto-bismol pink house of a mexican family. At this house, I saw what they had done to remedy their lack of electricity and need to wash clothes. The man of the house had rigged an old lawnmower engine to run the agitator of the old washing machine. It was a marvel of ingenuity.

I also remembered a conversation I had with my uncle about the difference between North Texas grilling and South Texas grilling. When North Texans grill, they will put some hamburgers and hot dogs on the fire and call it a barbecue. Their food will come out pretty much the same every time, rather plain yet filling. South Texans, on the other hand, will put every kind of meat they can find, with Fiesta seasonings that kick you in the gut and make your mouth dance with happiness. There will be ribs, fajitas, chicken, and all kinds of things.

I believe it is inherent in Mexican culture to make the most of what you have. What this means in an environment of very limited resources is the ability to survive. What this means in an environment of plenty is a culture that produces things that people of other cultures tell their friends about. In South Texas, they added the amazing things they could do with their culinary resources, including spices, spicy peppers, and tortillas, to the newfound resources of their imperialistic conquerors, to make foods that South Texans rave about and miss upon their journeys to the north.

I also believe that Americans once had a little bit of this trait in their own culture, although they came from a land of plenty and eventually turned this into a land of plenty through their imperialistic drives. I think the success of America's drive to thrive has been at the expense of the benefits of a history of struggle, or a history period. This new, young nation has dominated in militaristic and economic endeavors. Yet, perhaps it's greatest success has been the assimilation of many cultures, even at the expense of their own.

However, perhaps some foods that are attributed to others can be claimed by America. Pizza, Lo Mein, Nachos, and other foods have thrived in America because of the strength of the consumer culture. Otherwise, they would just be regional dishes.

Mexicans with resources can do amazing things, as I'm sure we will find in the future. I'm so sure of that, I've devoted a blog to it. Actually, tis just a rant blog. Enjoy. Don't take any of this seriously.


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