Exploring the Unique, Delicious Flavors of Tex-Mex Cooking

The Mexican-influenced food of Texas sometimes gets a bad rap. Some would-be culinary purists are apt to dismiss the cuisine as somehow inauthentic, ignoring the fact that it has a long and interesting history of its own. Tex-Mex food is distinctive, it is true, and not the same as any of the truly Mexican cuisines that contributed so much to its development. Experiencing some great Tex-Mex dinners, though, should persuade any diner that the food can be just as delicious as any from the neighbor to the south.

One especially iconic Tex-Mex meal is the dish known as fajitas. Tex-Mex makes heavy use of beef where Mexican cuisine more often tends toward pork, and the original version of the dish follows in this tradition. Typically, beef skirt steaks are grilled alongside a variety of vegetables, with mild bell peppers and onions being the mainstays. Once these have all been cooked to satisfaction, they are sliced up in strips that make for easy handling by diners and then placed upon special, heated serving plates which help to keep them sizzling as they stand upon the table.

The exciting thing about fajitas is that diners get to participate in their making. While grilled beef and vegetables make up the main focus of the meal, a variety of other condiments and toppings are invariably provided as well. One particularly Tex-Mex option of this sort is a salsa making use of green chilies and avocados that is highly emblematic of the cuisine. Often referred to simply as “green sauce,” this addition is common to restaurants that specialize in the regional cuisine, and brings a completely unique flavor to the dishes it is used on.

Of course, tortillas are just as important to fajitas as anything else. Falling right in line with the usual Tex-Mex status quo, fajitas should include palm-sized tortillas of wheat flour, preferably grilled themselves just as the meal is falling into place. Wheat flour tortillas are a product of the cold winter nights of West Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, as that grain has always been easier and more common to grow in those regions than the corn that is more usual throughout Mexico.