Tex-mex in the ‘Hood
by Lynn Bridge
If I want to eat corn tortillas with butter on them until I feel sick, I go to Matt’s El Rancho in the neighborhood. When I was a child, it was a small restaurant on East 1st Street in Austin, but the Martinez family eventually opened a much larger restaurant south of the river, with tasteful Mexican atmosphere.
I had never heard the word ‘Tex-mex’ until I was well into adulthood, and here’s the reason why:
When Diana Kennedy wrote The Cuisines of Mexico in the early ’70’s, she told Matt Martinez, Jr. that she only wrote about authentic Mexican cuisine, not ‘Tex-mex’. He had never heard that word before, and he decided to use what was supposed to be a derogatory term to his advantage, calling all his restaurant food Tex-mex. This story came straight from the pages of Robb Walsh’s The Tex-Mex Cookbook. I like that scrappy attitude, taking what someone thinks is not worth time or the printed page, and turning it into an asset.
This Mexican food plate contains all the usual suspects: glass, glass, and more glass, and now I’ve added the colors of the Mexican flag for its border. Ready for lunch?