Taking over the world through food

2013.11 Dia de los Muertos cookies P1050695It’s an interesting experience when you see that Real Simple magazine posts 3 Easy Ways to Heat Tortillas. Are tortillas so mainstream now that a magazine has to provide instructions on how to heat them up? Are there really so many people out there buying tortillas and taking them home who have never had a tortilla in their kitchens (ever) that someone at Real Simple said, “hey, we really need to teach these people the way to heat a tortilla”? I guess so.

I can find Día de los Muertos sugar cookies at my neighborhood Kroger store. Tortillas outsell hotdog buns and burger buns. Salsa is the best-selling condiment in the country. Latino food cookbooks sell fast. When did Latino food take over the world as we know it? (And I’m not counting the spinach whole wheat things they sell at the local grocery store as “real” tortillas, though I’m sure the food industry doesn’t care about my opinion on that.)

Nowhere is this more evident than in Houston’s foodie scene. We have every kind of Latino food restaurant you can think of — from taquerías and churrasquerías to Tex-Mex and fusion. Pupusas, baleadas, tostones, maduros — these are all words I learned when I moved to this city. Yes, they’re all food.

Want a torta? There are many places you can find that, with at least one restaurant offering a torta/burger specialty.Want tacos? There’s a taco joint or food truck in every neighborhood in the city (it seems), with a few 24-hour options thrown in for those of us who go looking for them at 2am. (I know this from personal experience.) Cuban food, Honduran food, Colombian food, South American food — you can find it easily. And when you do go, you’ll see at least a few brave souls who have ventured outside the lines of “normal” (
Tex-Mex) into other kinds of food.

“Can you recommend a good Mexican food restaurant,” visitors will often ask me when they come in to Houston for a meeting. And I baffle them with my response, “What kind of Mexican food do you want?” When they ask me to explain what I mean I tell them, “There’s authentic, Tex-Mex, fusion, coastal, taquerías,

2013.11 Pinatas P1050590Target sells piñatas (they’re small, but they’re still piñatas). In Houston, even the mainstream museums and art organizations celebrated Día de los Muertos this year (which a few years ago was an almost unheard of holiday in this country). Sofia Vergara has design collections in every store in the planet, it seems. So, it looks like cultural tourism is “in.” The people who matter have decided that you must consume comida Latina and celebrate Latino holidays to be somebody, to count. And the world is listening to them. That’s a good thing, I think.

And I’ll be glad for this while trying hard not to wonder on how anyone could not understand the way to heat a tortilla: you microwave it. Wait, wait… is that just me? Nope. Even the people at Real Simple mentioned it as an option.

Author: Paloma Cruz

Find out more about Paloma Cruz through the About page. Connect with her on Twitter (www.twitter.com/palomacruz) and (Facebook).

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