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Sopphey Says: Presenting Texicana; The Merging of Americana, Mexicana, and Texan Culture

Sopphey Vance

Now. Titles, of course in particular blog titles, are made to impress your roaming eye as you scroll down social media. Or perhaps peruse over a search result. Listen, I’ll tell you all you need to know about Texicana in this paragraph before I lose you. Texicana is the merger of American, Mexican, and Texan culture. To clarify my authenticity, I’m from South Texas where 99% of Texan Politicians consider us a third world country. 85% percent of the State of Texas thinks my hometown is cartel central with gangs, rape, and drugs littering every piece of the broken down streets. Look, I can’t tell you it’s much different than that–okay it’s isolated. Drive out of the cities far enough and you’ll find a dead body in a garbage bag.

However, the numbers aren’t quite accurate but I’ve made my point. I’ll take a brief moment to inform you that I’m way more cultured for a person who grew up in a broken down trailer with holes in the infrastructure, no a/c, limited running water, and sparring electricity. How I never became a warden of the state is a miracle. I’d like to believe that my childhood included cooking for my family. I created my first batch of enchiladas using canned chicken and tomato sauce dressed with cumin powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. It was delicious.

Food is a huge deal for the Texicana culture. To start, there’s a little bit of everything in American food, oh sorry Americana cuisine, trying to stay trendy here. There’s starches like pastas, breads, potatoes, and then there’s lighter starches like beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and whole grains. Mexican food as seen through Texas is heavily depended on beef, cheese, flour tortillas, rice, and beans. So let’s turn up the blender, I have an idea for you.

Take chiles rellenos, or stuffed peppers. The Mexican dish is always a roasted poblano pepper, usually filled with sort of minced ground beef, potatoes, and a Mexican mozzarella, dipped in egg white ‘batter’, and pan fried. Typically served with Mexican rice and pinto beans. Okay, delicious. An American approach to stuffed peppers could include a bell pepper stuffed with ground beef, an array of chopped veggies, topped with cheese and bread crumbs and roasted in the oven. But, the Texicana approach. The Tex-Mex poblano meets the bell pepper meets a faraway dream that is good for the environment… the Texicana approach is vegetable forward and cheese loving served with a side of Mexican rice and pinto beans.

Well, I can tell you’re not buying this. The Texicana approach is supposed to merge American, Mexican, and Texan culture. America is all about beef. Mexican food through Texan lenses is all about beef. I’m so glad I have to convince you. Vegetables are good for you, cheaper, and if you’re living in the American third world country of South Texas you just about want to be different. California has their avocados and Texas has Mexico with avocados too. Aka, let’s be different too. There are no rules!

Back to chiles rellenos, remember we’re talking about stuffed peppers. The Texicana dish will consist of roasted poblano pepper. Mexican, check. Fill up that pepper with a sweet potato hash with chopped red onions, chopped bell pepper, and Monterey Jack cheese. Peppers inside peppers, different check. Sweet potato as a starch, Americana check. Inclusion of cheese, Texan check. It doesn’t quite remind you of ground beef stuffed peppers? Add some beef stock to your potato hash. You’re welcome.

I hope you’re impressed enough that you won’t be asking for a recipe. But just in case, I’ll report back in the coming month with a recipe and pictures. As for Texicana, this won’t be the last you’ll hear of it. I’ll bring it around two more times. Once more to talk about shopping, and lastly how to celebrate every holiday in the the two countries between October 31st and November 2nd. Till then, let’s all gather around a pack of tortillas, some rice, and beans.

Sopphey Vance the poet, yarn artist, and legend resides in South Texas where he battles dragons and unicorns for Five 2 One Magazine.