What is the difference between Tex-Mex food and Mexican food?
The main difference between Tex-Mex cuisine and authentic Mexican cuisine is the ingredients used for each. Cumin is an example. The use of cumin in Tex-Mex cuisine dates back to the 1890s in San Antonio when a German immigrant started selling chili powder that included the Indian herb, as History explains.
Thrillist also mentions some ingredients you’ll find in Tex-Mex that you won’t find in traditional Mexican cuisine, including beef, black beans, yellow cheese, canned vegetables, and wheat flour. The site also lists some popular Tex-Mex dishes, including the aforementioned nachos and fajitas, as well as chili con carne and enchiladas.
Shedding light on the other end of the spectrum, Saul Montiel, the executive chef of Cantina Rooftop in New York City, lists some of the ingredients and dishes that are commonly prepared in authentic Mexican cuisine (via Facebook/NowThis Food). These include tostadas, flautas, tamales, dried chili, corn tortillas, herbs, papalo, romero, and cabeza tacos.
The next question to ask is, why did Tex-Mex cuisine begin to use different ingredients from cuisine south of the border?