Friends having a Mexican tex mex dinner
What's The Difference Between Tex-Mex And Mexican Food?
By Cynthia Anaya
Many dishes that people consider "Mexican food" in the United States are actually Tex-Mex, including the food you find at restaurants like Chipotle, Qdoba, El Pollo Loco, and Pappasito's Cantina. Many Americans don’t know the difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican or the history of Tex-Mex cuisine.
Ingredients are the main difference, as Tex-Mex uses many ingredients that Mexican food does not, including cumin, beef, black beans, yellow cheese, canned vegetables, and wheat flour. Meanwhile, Mexican food often includes tostadas, flautas, tamales, dried chili, corn tortillas, herbs, papalo, romero, and tacos de cabeza, none of which are as common in Tex-Mex.
Chef Saul Montiel describes Tex-Mex as a mixture of Native American, Spanish, American, and Mexican cuisines, and the first Tex-Mex dish was a bowl of chili con carne. The term “Tex-Mex” didn't become popular until the 1970s after Diana Kennedy wrote about it in a book called "The Cuisines of Mexico,” but it is now accepted as its own distinct cuisine.