¡Ask a Mexican! tackles BurritoGate

Yep, people have been ripping off each others’ cultures for as long as there’s been anything resembling ‘culture’ and ‘trade’. There’s no point in complaining about cultural osmosis: it’s going to happen whether you like it or not.


I think about them as well. Thinking about them right now, actually. /nomdrool


Just was responding to this:

i.e. Most Japanese restos I’ve been to anywhere aren’t owned and operated by Japanese.

Outside of Chicago, those suckers don’t even exist, except maybe in one specialty store run by an ex-Chicagoan.

I actually think the opposite- when checking out a new restaurant with cuisine from another country, the first thing I look for are the ex-pats in the dining area. If they are eating there, it’s probably good. If not, it’s likely either not great or overpriced.


And wherever they exist, I will eat them. (Think you meant to reply to the gentlemen claiming they were from Illinois.)

Exactly! I learned this from my half Chinese wife. If you’re considering eating in a ethnic restaurant and no one of that ethnicity is there then find a different restaurant.

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Ugh… Maid Rite! Although IIRC that actually started in Missouri - I can’t sand those things though - if I want sloppy joe’s I’ll make 'em at home.

Ha no - not quite - I’m just complaining about the bland food here in state honestly - I love chicago dogs - I was kind of tongue in cheeking a bit because frankly I’ve never been to a place where the food isn’t at least somewhat stolen from somewhere else.

It reads to me like you’re saying that in order to be able to cook X cuisine well, it needs to be part of your heritage/descent?

Cooking isn’t some sort of dark art deeply embedded into your DNA. It’s a skill like any other. A good line cook should be able to walk into any restaurant and start making the kind of cuisine that’s on the menu to the specifications of the executive chef – and if they can’t, they better learn quickly or they will get sacked.

If you went to a restaurant and the food was bad, blame the executive chef for the bad menu, or the line cook for making a bad dish, or whomever was working the pass for bad quality control. Don’t blame where the staff is from – that’s just racist.


A couple of thoughts…
The indian restaurants in Kansas City are owned by immigrants or first generation Indian Americans. From what I can tell in finding my own recipes, the dishes are very traditional, yet the Indian immigrants I know all complain about the restaurants being bland and mild.

I also wonder if you were unknowingly being given “bland” versions of dishes in your travels in India?

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I can assure you that wasn’t the case. I’ve heard that the guys from my last trip still talk about how they could take me anywhere for lunch/dinner and I’d be OK. My last day they saved for taking me to dinner at an Andhra curry place (hottest south Indian cuisine).

I also live next to a suburb with a lot of software companies, so there’s a ton of Indian people there and as such a ton of Indian restos for them to eat at.

I know I’m given bland versions in the US. I’m pasty even for a white guy, so the waitstaff always tries to talk me down to a lower spice level. Even if the waitstaff is American, and I’m ordering something benign like chicken with orange glaze.

But yeah, the curry in Naperville that @anon75430791 mentioned was the real deal.

Naperville is quite a hike from Schaumburg.

Also, as an aside, I just love that name. Schaumburg. Foam Castle.

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Oh yeah, I used to live in Naperville is all. BTW, the place I am referring to is long gone, it was a little hole in the wall on Ogden Ave.

More recently I worked in Schaumburg (but no longer).

Now I’m convinced we ate at the same place.

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Hey, you can see my old house on that map!

My favorite were the Indian-Chinese restaurants. I’ve never had anything comparable since leaving.

I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned Rick Bayless - his JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNING restaurants should be castigated for cultural misappropriation as well. (RIP Xoco)

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There’s a couple of distinctly non-Japanese dudes making really good sake in Boston (Dovetail if you’re curious). I don’t recall any bullshit cultural appropriation claims against them (thankfully). Personally I feel a bit of local pride really.


While it’s really tempting to make this into a ‘Portlandia’ riff, I think if you read the linked story, you’ll see that it’s not that they were unaware of tortillas or breakfast burritos, but that they were captivated by the particular fresh tortillas hechas a mano that they found on the beach in Puerto Nuevo.

It was that particular experience — the “thin, stretchy, buttery” handmade tortillas — that they wanted to replicate.

There’s a wide variation in tortillas, and freshly hand-made tortillas can produce effects that simply aren’t possible with reheating a packaged machine-made tortilla, even if you use an authentic comal to do do it.

(Though they’re still perfectly ‘authentic.’ This is about flavor, not ‘authenticity.’)

Portland is not ignorant of Mexican food - the article says that after they returned home, the first thing they did was go to “the Mexican market” for ingredients.

But thin, stretchy, buttery, freshly hand-made tortillas are a relative (and treasured!) rarity even here in SoCal, Land of the Burrito, where people were barbecuing beef and growing wheat long before the Americans arrived.

Indeed, I suspect ‘California Cuisine’ is just an elaboration of the long-standing Mexican tradition of adopting new ingredients and techniques from successive waves of immigrants, and stirring them up into yummy new food creations.

¡Viva el mestizaje!


What happened to Xoco?

I loved that place. One of the most authentic Mexican restaurants I’ve ever been to, outside of Mexico.

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My folks said the best Cajun/Creole food they ever had was at a small, San Fernando Valley, CA restaurant (Les Sisters) that I had introduced them to… better than what they had in New Orleans on one of their trips. Food knows no boundaries (unless you try to make your own ‘authentic’ bouillabaisse as we tried awhile back; the kitchen was turned into a disaster area and the fish stew was only passable.)

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