I’m often asked the question: “Where is the best place to get Mexican in the city?” To which I reply: “La cocina de Homesick Texan.” OK, I admit, I’m of French and English descent, and when I’m cooking Mexican what I’m really cooking is Tex-Mex. And while Diana Kennedy would probably disparage most of my dishes, if you’re looking for true Tex-Mex flavor I’ve got a lot of it covered. But the key to any Tex-Mex meal at my place is this: A CD called “15 Early Tejano Classics.”
Did you ever see “Lone Star?” I love that movie, for obvious reasons, and everything about it just works on so many levels. I’m not here to talk about the movie (not today, at least), but right after seeing it at the movie theatre way back in 1996, I crossed the street to the CD shop (when people still bought CDs) and bought the soundtrack. It’s a fine mix of all kinds of Texas music, but the tunes that really touched me were the Tejano ones by Isidro Lopez and Freddie Fender. I kept replaying them over and over, so I was overjoyed when I found the Tejano Classics CD: a whole album of nothing but Tex-Mex music. What was it about these songs that charmed me? Easy answer: no matter where I was, the music instantly transported me to a place: a lazy afternoon spent in a Tex-Mex greasy spoon where the hot sauce and chips were bottomless; a place where the sizzling-hot Texas-sized platters overflowed with cheesy enchiladas smothered in chili sauce, a couple of crispy tacos and a beef tamale wrapped in a corn husk, with the whole plate embraced between small oceans of rice and beans; a place where there was always a woman in the center of the restaurant patting out flour tortillas that the waiters would bring to you still warm nestled in a straw basket lined with cloth; a place where the only dessert options were sopapillas with honey or pralines (or both if it was your birthday); a place where the soundtrack was songs like these, Tejano classics.
Before I learned Spanish, I could sing along with these songs--I’d heard them all my life. Songs of love and longing, and even if you don’t know the language it’s easy to figure out what the word corazon means. If you don’t have any Tejano in your collection, this is an excellent place to start. And when you listen, hopefully you’ll feel instantly transported yourself. Trust me, it’s great music to listen to while serving your friends a batch of cheese enchiladas.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Posted by Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) at 5:50 PM