Dear Gabacho: Are you a proud New Yorker—or a proud Manhattanite? Because you answered your question in your pregunta. The Big Manzana historically didn’t have great Mexican food (although it did have a crucial role in the development of Mexican food in the United States—you’ll have to wait till next year for my upcoming book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America (And Soon, the World) for the details) because Mexicans didn’t migrate to the region in large numbers. That changed in the past 20 years, with the 2000 Census showing that Mexicans were New York’s fastest-growing ethnic group—and that was before the Reconquista truly wrapped its mestizo hands around Gotham! You have some of the highest concentrations of people from Puebla and Hidalgo in the United States, so feast on barbacoa and cemitas poblanas (sandwiches that make hoagies seem as puny as a singular pierogi) to your panza’s content—and leave the whining to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
Dear Mexican: I’m a huge fan of yours and I decided that I would at long last ask the Mexican a question! I set down this morning to drink my mocha and realized that I had no idea how Mexicans like their coffee. The Europeans have espresso, the Americans have McDonald’s mud, but what do the Mexicans have? Help me, amigo! —Caffeine Cabrona
Dear Gabacha: Café de olla—coffee from the pot, preferably lead-lined; spiced with cinnamon and piloncillo, unrefined brown sugar usually formed into a cylindrical triangle from which Mexis smash off pieces. Café de olla is like a Mexican woman—spicy, sweet, caliente, perfect for late nights, early mornings, and slow, gentle blowing on its top before sipping.
SHAMELESS PLUG! Not for me, but for the most-Mexican gabacho I know who’s not a cousin-in-law: Robb Walsh, the Gibbon of Texas food history, recently came out with a new book, The Tex-Mex Grill & Backyard Barbecue Cookbook—and Walsh being Walsh, it’s no mere grab-bag of great, easily reproducible recipes: You also get gorgeous pictures and stories on the different facets of Tex-Mex cuisine. Learn, for instance, about the curious history of the fajita, or the advent of the margarita. A great, useful read, and, like I say in the blurb I contributed on the back of the book: Anyone who doesn’t buy it deserves deportation. Learn more at RobbWalsh.com, and felíz grilling!
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, myspace.com/ocwab, facebook.com/garellano, youtube.com/askamexicano, find him on, Twitter, or write via snail mail at: Gustavo Arellano, P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815-1433!