Frito pie is a Texas icon. This tangle of corn chips topped with chili, jalapeños, cheese, and onion is a staple at football games, church suppers, school lunches, and perhaps even your own kitchen. It’s certainly a favorite of mine and I never pass up an opportunity to enjoy one either when I see them out in the wild or have some extra chili and Fritos around.
Now, a few years ago someone mentioned to me that Frito pie was not from Texas but instead came from New Mexico. This, of course, gave me pause. Not only are the chips from Texas but so is the chili. Not to mention, the dish itself is so deeply embedded into our culture it just seemed impossible that it could be from anywhere else.
A little research lead me to discover that the first published mention of it was in an Abilene, Texas newspaper in 1947. This was enough tangible proof for me of its heritage, and as my grandparents had told me stories of eating Frito pie in the 1940s as well, I know that it was popular with Texans at that time.
But after more digging I found that it was mentioned in a New Mexico newspaper in 1948. So it seems that the folks in New Mexico have been enjoying Frito pie almost as long as Texans, and it became clear why someone might think that it originated there.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Thursday, September 01, 2016
Hatch chiles in New York are rare. Some seasons you’ll see them, but last summer there were none to be found. Just when I thought this year might be the same, I finally spotted the elusive peppers. And while at almost three dollars a pound they would be considered expensive by other place’s standards, they were quite the bargain for New York so I filled a large bag with my bounty.
Last week, I was in Texas doing research and it was during the height of the Hatch celebration there. Since I’m the kind of person that enjoys walking around the grocery store, I found myself visiting at least one every day and it was fun seeing all the creative ways that Hatch chiles could be used.
On my last night in Texas, as I was telling a friend about my visit to Central Market she asked if I’d tried the Hatch chile chocolate chip cookies. Unfortunately, I had missed them so I decided to stop at an HEB on the way to the airport to see if they had any there. (I also wanted to pick up some more of the Hatch chile flour tortillas, as we’d finished all the ones I’d previously bought.)
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Back when my grandma had a vegetable garden, during summer visits I enjoyed watching her come into the kitchen every morning with that day’s harvest. Sometimes there might be tomatoes and sometimes there might be greens, but there was always, always squash. Like the rising of the sun, you could always count on a batch of summer squash that needed harvesting each day.
While my grandma no longer keeps her garden, we still enjoy eating squash. And when it’s in season you’ll find it on my table in the form of Tex-Mex squash casserole, green chile squash casserole, squash enchiladas, squash slaw, and even squash pickles. But I’m always looking for new ways to use up summer squash since it’s plentiful and prolific this time of year.
The past month, I’ve taken to making squash tacos. Now, I know that might sound a little strange but hear me out. First, I take some diced yellow squash and zucchini and cook that with onion, jalapeños, garlic, and corn. I don’t cook it for too long, just enough to soften it a bit and begin to get the juices flowing. This way it still has a bit of crunch to it, which goes well with the satisfying pop of fresh, sweet corn.
After it’s ready, I take the squash and corn mixture and layer it onto a warm tortilla along with some crumbled Mexican chorizo for additional protein, though beans or bacon would work well, too. I top the squash with some creamy avocado slices, a handful of crumbled queso fresco, and a squirt of lime juice. A splash of fresh salsa is also welcome. Then I fold and eat, repeating as necessary. It’s quick, healthy, and good.