Familia: Guess. If you believe the mainstream media, the most important thing in Mexican culture after tequila.
I am a Chicano in Connecticut. I moved from Arizona to the East Coast for my dream job. I have to admit that I’m still homesick. Connecticut is a completely different world. To sum it up in one phrase,
. It took awhile for me to find a Mexican restaurant close to me. It’s very comparable to that cardboard tortilla outlet known as Taco Bell. When I first went there, I was served chips and salsa. Of course, I dove right into the appetizer. The chips were very stale and the salsa tasted like candy. I asked my
if they had a hotter salsa because the salsa was nothing but
salsa de tomate
with some chunks of
in it. He told me they have a spicy pico de gallo and he’d bring it right out. What I received was nothing but a bowl of chopped
with some cilantro in it! I’m tired of Mexican-owned restaurants advertising their
, only to be disappointed by how crappy the food, OUR food, tastes. Why does our
feel as if they have to water down our great cuisines for the
? If Mexican restaurants want to advertise
as authentic, then why don’t the
of the restaurants cook and show off the beauty of
and forget a candy flavored salsa in favor of a great-tasting salsa that not only makes our mouths water, but also makes us teary eyed? --Chicano in the CONN
Dear Wab: A tip for the next time you encounter salsa milder than vanilla: carry your own chiles. The Mexican always travels with a sandwich bag containing his favorite peppers—a couple of long, green serranos for freshness, gnarled chiles de árbol to bless my beans with dry heat, the tiny pequín if I need crunch, and one neon-orange habanero to rub in the eyes of any possible stalkers. Your sad story is one experienced by many Mexicans who travel through the parts of this country that wabs have just begun to colonize, but it’s not unique to us: New Yorkers always bemoan the quality of bagels everywhere outside of Brooklyn, and San Franciscans simply won’t eat burritos not folded in their famed Mission District.