Turns out that the McAllen Metro-plex in South Texas has the highest rate of obesity in the entire country... but if you’ve ever tasted the food, you’d understand why. It’s THAT DAMN good!
by David Davila (Playwright/Song-writer)
Went home to Texas this weekend to meet my new little niece and gained about five pounds in just five days. You would too if you’d eaten all of the amazingly delicious foods I did. It was no surprise to me at all when my mother proudly, and with a bit of disgust, announced that McAllen, TX was officially the fattest city in the United States of America.
What makes Texas food so tasty and fatty? Take for instance, the Tex-Mex Enchilada. You take a corn tortilla, which is packed with complex carbs, and you fry it in oil till it gets nice and soft, then you stuff it with Cheddar, Jack, and American cheese, and smother it in enchilada sauce (which is a Tex-Mex gravy with tomato, chili-powder and ground beef) then smother it in more cheese…… the end result is delicious…. But it spells high cholesterol.
(The traditional Tex-Mex Enchilada plate... you just can't get anything like this in NYC. The problem is they don't make the gravy/enchilada sauce right, and they use the wrong types of cheeses.)
When I lived in Texas I ate this food every day, so it’s no wonder that I lost 30 pounds upon moving to NYC. It is only after being distanced from it for so long that I can look at the cuisine objectively and see how bad it is for people, and also how lucky the people of Texas are to enjoy it whenever they want.
When I was seventeen I devoured eight of my mother's enchiladas (she makes the best damn enchiladas) and suddenly felt my heart racing in crazy palpitations... it should be no surprise as to why after knowing what I know now... went to the doctor and discovered that my cholesterol was over 400!!!!
If you’ve NEVER been to Texas (like many of my New York friends) then I’m going to show you what you’re missing…
(This is Chile Con Queso. For goodness sakes, will you PLEASE start serving this at Bockheads... it's sooo easy to make, I will come and teach your chef, and you will make lots of money selling it!!!!)
Chile Con Queso: My biggest vice, chile con queso, is a dip made entirely of cheese and peppers. Though it’s impossible to find in any NYC restaurant, it’s easy to make at home using a block of Velveeta and a can of Rotel sliced tomatoes and chiles.
Tex-Mex Nachos: Nachos are made a million different ways across the country, but back in Texas the nachos are just better. The secret is that they use freshly fried tortilla chips, refried pinto beans, a mix of American and Cheddar cheeses (for God’s sake DO NOT put Mozzarella on a nacho), fresh avocado slices, pickled jalapeños, and barbequed beef or chicken fajitas. Most importantly, they layer the nachos so that each chip has an even distribution of ingredients then they melt the cheese in an oven.
(Hanging with friends? Try the KING KONG nachos at Chacho's Nacho Bar in San Antonio... we don't have pubs in Texas, we have Nacho Bars...)
Rio Grande Botana Platter: The elusive Botana platter is only found in South Texas, most famously in my hometown (which happens to be the fattest city in America, need I remind you.) Often joked about as Tex-Mex thanksgiving dinner, it’s basically a GIANT nacho platter on a massive serving tray with layer upon layer of refried pinto beans, American & cheddar cheeses, jalapeños, red and green pepper, onions, barbequed fajitas, and small quesadillas (made by folding a corn tortilla in a half and stuffing it with Monterey Jack or goat cheese) …. You need at least four people to share a Rio Grande Botana Platter, and you better be hungry.
Queso Fundido – The easiest dish to prepare, it’s literally just Monterey Jack cheese cooked in a skillet. When served in Texas they pour alcohol on top and light the dish on fire, then serve it with fresh flour tortillas and tortilla chips to enjoy. Queso fundido is often mixed with Mexican Chorizo, shrimp, chile peppers and other things depending on how you like it (Luckily they serve this at Rosa Mexicano in NYC).
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail: The best thing about the Mexican Shrimp cocktail is the avocado. A good shrimp cocktail has equal parts shrimp and avocado in a tomato base sauce with chiles to spice the cocktail instead of the Northern horseradish.
Stuffed Avocado – Take an avocado, slice it in half, stuff it with Jack cheese, peppers, Mexican chorizo, chicken, or shrimp, batter it, deep fry it, and top with more cheese and ranchero sauce….. What???? Amazing!
Chicken Fried Steak or Chicken Fried Chicken: Take a sirloin steak, a patty made of ground sirloin steak, or a chicken breast, batter it, deep fry it, and top it with white cream gravy. Heart attack central, and one of my favorite foods... if I had to choose my last supper... it would be this.
King Ranch Chicken (aka Mexican Lasagna) – a casserole made up of tortillas, chicken, cheeses, tomatoes, peppers, and enchilada sauce. (FYI: It's called King Ranch Chicken because the biggest ranch in Texas for years was King Ranch, and they supposedly invented the dish there.)
Breakfast Tacos: The people of Texas eat their breakfast wrapped in fresh tortillas. It makes it easier to eat while you ride your horse to work. ;) The most common breakfast tacos are pretty predictable; bacon and egg, potato and egg, egg and cheese, but the most common of all is bean and cheese (Refried pinto beans and cheddar or American cheese…. it’s glorious.)
(This is literally what EVERYONE eats for breakfast in Texas... tacos... it's BIG business, but I can't seem to find any restaurant in NYC that will put my bacon and eggs in a tortilla instead of a bagel.)
Chorizo con huevos: Mexican chorizo is not like regular sausage. It does not have a thick skin so that it can be sliced, and is too strong to eat on its own, so is usually mixed with egg, or cheese (see Queso Fundido). It is perfect served in a tortilla for breakfast… with a little smoked salsa of course.
Tex-Mex Barbacoa & Avocado: Tex-Mex barbacoa is not like the stuff you buy at Chipotle. Though it looks similar, it is not drenched in a chipotle sauce, and is a very fatty mix of all the left over parts of the cow. Cooked in it’s own fat, it’s VERY tender and perfect in a tortilla with slices of fresh Mexican Avocado and Texas limes.
Tortilla Soup: Made from a chicken broth, and spiced with chiles, onion, and tomato, a good tortilla soup is smothered in Jack or Goat cheese and topped with lots of fresh Mexican Avocado slices, Tortilla soup is perfect for a cold Texas day… (aka 90 degrees F)
Texas Tamales: Unlike the tamales in Southern Mexico, which are wrapped in banana leafs, we use corn husks in Texas to wrap our tamales. We also stuff our tamales with a mix of beef, pork, and deer meat. Sorry Bambi.... :( Tamales are served in Texas during Thanksgiving and Christmas when large families get together and throw tamale making parties. Any excuse to see family and have a cocktail is alright by me.
I actually have a play I've been working on, called A LA MESA, which takes place at a Tamale making party during the Christmas holiday... and deals with smuggling drugs across the US Border...
This is the part of the blog where I was going to tell you all about Texas Bar-B-Q but I think it'll have to wait for a Fattest City part 2..... I'm getting wayyyyy too hungry.... and It's making me miss Texas... though I don't miss those 30 pounds..... till next time....
... and now for the 90's jam of the week:
DAVID DAVILA is half of the song-writing duo Havrilla & Davila, author of the Tex-Mex plays ADAN Y JULIO, MEN OF GOD, CREDO, REQUERDOS OF MY LIFE, and AZTEC PIRATES AND THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF LIFE ON MARS. He is a self proclaimed Voxist, a Diva enthusiast, and founder of Lone Star Theatre Co. Wanna talk about it? Catch a concert of David Davila's 52 Songs at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on Sept 5th. www.daviddavila.net
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