Why Mexican Food Shouldn’t Be Seen As “Cheap”
In the United States, Mexican food is generally considered cheap street food. We see it with prejudices that often parallel the xenophobic and racist prejudices of many Americans towards the Mexican community. The belief that this cuisine is both dirty and easy can be seen as a direct reflection of how Mexicans are often viewed in America: dirty and lazy, without any class. The concept of Mexican that is elegant, beautiful, complex, and rich in thousands of recipes from generation to generation is unfathomable in mainstream American culture. Large corporate chains, which profit from Americanized Mexican food, still contribute to this distorted image of Mexican culture and food. They strip this cuisine of its authenticity and its deep cultural roots that go back to Aztec civilization. They break it down into cheap tacos and burritos.
Much like how Mexican food is reduced to irrelevant and pathetic attempts at “authenticity” in America, the Mexican community in America is also reduced to irrelevant and pathetic labels and generalizations. Because Mexicans are so frowned upon in America, our food is considered to be only worth a few dollars. The low price of our food reflects how the rest of the country views our worth and how we should be treated. But the reality is that Mexican cuisine can be elegant and classy. The basic ingredients, while simple, have the ability to become a complex mouthful of flavor and spice. Some of the main traditional dishes require patience and a specific technique – the kind of technique that cannot be written on a piece of paper. It’s the kind of technique that comes through feeling, love, and practice. The way my grandmother cooked in the kitchen might have been quick, ingenious, and approachable, but she moved with such grace, such patience, such passion. It wasn’t just about putting all the ingredients from the grocery aisle into the cart for a bowl of burrito.
It is incredibly frustrating that my culture, among others which are often seen as ‘inferior’ than European or white communities, have to see themselves not only as disrespectful and racist perceptions, but also their food and culture. . I can’t tell you how many times I would bring lunch to school to hear other kids say, “Hey, why does that look like this”, “It smells so bad” or “Does are you really going to eat this? âComing to a new country is so demanding of immigrant families. You leave behind a world that this new American not only does not understand but disrespects. You cling to things that remind you of home, often including food. Then that too is taken away. It is abused by a community of people who place and impose their own judgment and misconceptions there. The only quality of Mexican food shouldn’t be “cheap”, it shouldn’t be ” easy “and it should not be seen as a cuisine deserving of little respect or admiration. It is wonderfully flavorful, brilliantly colored, smoky and fresh – capable of being a delicacy if only treated as such.
Contact Paloma Torres at [emailÂ protected].