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May 20, 2014

[Bumped] We have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is.


It is NOT melted cheese over a tortilla chip.
It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply ‘bro food’ halftime. It is in fact, old— older even than the great cuisines of Europe and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients, painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet.
Anthony Bourdain, Under The Volcano

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 20, 2014 9:55 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

I miss his television work since we ditched the cable. One of the few things missable on tv.

Posted by: pbird at May 18, 2014 8:18 AM

You can watch Anthony Bourdain via Hulu.

Posted by: Deborah HH at May 18, 2014 10:00 AM

I think he's dreaming. The country is filled with "mexican" restaurants and all most of us know of mex food is what we eat in those places.

My money says that no mexican anywhere spends days preparing anything except a new and improved way to enter the country illegally.

Posted by: Jack at May 18, 2014 11:58 AM

Heaven on Earth: the Mole Festival held every year just outside of Mexico City. Everything in my being wants the chance to experience it again.

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at May 18, 2014 12:00 PM

Down around my place we have fourteen Mexican restaurants and most of 'em are crummy. Much of what us Anglos eat is in the cart or sidewalk category: the tacos, enchiladas, burritos, so forth. Rarely do we see seafood by me. I suppose there are gourmet-level Mexican restaurants somewhere in Mexico but why bother? Any Mescan food cooked north of the border is usually not "authentic".

Posted by: chasmatic at May 18, 2014 12:20 PM

I've eaten Mexican food when I had to all over the U.S. and several places in N. Mexico. It goes in the same category as English, Scotch and Scandinavian. Acceptable if the ingredients involved are all you have to work with, but choose something else if you have the option.

Posted by: BillH at May 18, 2014 2:30 PM

Lucky me. I grew up around Mexican people everywhere I lived. Ate in their homes, drank their wonderful beer, found out that there is Tequila that doesn't tats like gasoline and watched grandma pass her skill and love on to generations of daughters and granddaughters. If you are stuck on tacos and enchiladas I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: Glenn at May 18, 2014 3:54 PM

Bourdain's a tool, a so-impressed-with-himself prog danger tourist who has actually gotten high and filmed it for his danger-tourist show. Even so, I used to enjoy his show until he started attacking Paula Deen for no reason I have ever been able to determine, save possibly an inner prog sneer at persons Southern, deep in his junkie soul. No, the fact that she uses a lot of butter or lard, which might give the kiddies bad eating habits, does not constitute sufficient reason. Junkies who take drugs with Peruvian shamans and film it, so that they might make money with their cable TV show, provide a real possibility of glamorizing a bad, perhaps damaging or lethal habit. Junkies who take drugs with Peruvian shamans and film it don't get to take on superior airs, ever, about the food prepared by anyone else on the entire planet.

Paula Deen never mentioned him until he ran his fat prog mouth. An example in micro of the problem we have in this country. I'm about to become an enthusiatic chasmatician* just writing this.

chas·ma·ti·cian (chăs-mə-tĭsh′ən)
A person skilled or learned in punching people in the mouth who rate it.

Posted by: Mike James at May 18, 2014 4:33 PM

I stepped out of Morrie's 67 Chevelle and looked around and next thing ya know something was tugging at my britches. I looked down and a little bambino, maybe 5 years old, filthy as all get out, runny nose, etc., was staring up at me with them trained sad eyes, and his durty little palm out. He said something undecipherable but his eyes spoke louder, I was supposed to drop some coin in his hand. Craig, Morrie's younger brother, came running around the car yelling at the top of his lungs and bambino laid rubber. "I'm already sick of these rodents", Craig spit out.

Morrie paid some dood $5 to watch his ride so that no one would steal the battery, and we strode off to the center of Tijuana, for the first time in my life. Morrie and Craig were oldtimers here. We stopped at an intersection and Morrie and Craig discussed which bar we'd hit first and Craig spotted a food cart and sad he wanted to eat before he drinks. They were jammin' 25 cent "made on the spot" tacos in their face caves as fast as the old hag could slather em. I ate nothing. I couldn't get past the enormous amount of flies hovering and landing on everything. While they chowed down, I was reeling in my own personal blur, I saw 2 flies fukkin on the edge of a greasy old pot full of obviously cold refried beans. I almost hurled on the spot. The womans hands looked like they'd never seen soap or water, but them 2 idiots didn't care. I guess they'd built up a tolerance to it. Anyway, we drank some mezcal, Morrie got a shot o' leg then we headed to Ensenada and Hussong's Cantina where, as I was told the next morning when I woke up from my coma on the beach, I got in a fight with a Federale and threw his M14 in the ocean and I ate the worm. I would have killed for a cold glass of milk but none was to be found anywhere in the whole country. Yeah, I spent a week in Mexico one night.....

Posted by: ghostsniper at May 18, 2014 5:35 PM

I've lived in Mexico and grew up in San Diego (the best place in the U.S. to get Mexican food - and Tex-Mex is not Mexican).

The best Mexican we get here - while still very good, especially if you've been to a little mexican restaurant on PCH in Solana Beach - does not stack up to what you find in the towns in and around Mexico City.

The denigration of Mexican food reminds me of how when visiting Amsterdam I was told that Dutch food was boring and stick to the foreign restaurants, but when I had true Dutch food in Haarlem it was fantastic.

It's like going to Vegas and deciding Paris, Venice, and New York were total disappointments and missing out on the real thing. As I'm sure some people do.

Have some humility and realize that while it seems like every country's people want to come here, those that do might not be brining the best their homeland has to offer.

Posted by: dan at May 18, 2014 7:26 PM

We lived in Mexico City for almost 5 years, and the diversity of food there, the quality of the meats and vegetables and fruits are greatly missed. The fruits, especially. Here in the States, I can barely stand to eat fruit anymore, now that I know what it actually is supposed to taste like.

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at May 18, 2014 7:46 PM


The main thing is this guy uses the term "We" an awful lot, which just rubs me the wrong way. When I was a kid the response to that usage was "Got a turd in your pocket?"

I never trust anybody who begins with the premise that I agree with him without making sure of it first. And in my experience the guys who do it have always been lefties.

The other thing is, I don't personally find the Carefree Latin Lifestyle to be appealing. Living in San Antonio as a young guy 50 years ago gave me all the loud music, bright colors, outta-control kids and greasy food I wanted. Northern California has taught me that most, at least, of the people who revere Authentic Indigenous Food And Art are a buncha culture vultures, and similarly leftie, so no thanks.

YMMV, and that's fine with me, but I reserve the right to prefer my own (European) culture.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at May 18, 2014 7:57 PM

I remember a quote from David Duke, the Klansman that ran for political office of some sort a few years ago. with all the bullshit and hatred he was spouting this thought came through. Kinda like a diamond in a goat's ass.

He said when he goes to a Chinese restaurant he expects Chinese to be cooking the food, not Blacks. At a Greek restaurant he expects Greeks to be cooking, not Poles. A few more examples but I got the drift and I kinda agree. When I go to, oh, let's say a Mexican restaurant I expect the food to be cooked by the ethnic group featured on the menu. I don't think Italians do very well with roast pork, sauerkraut and dumplings, so forth.

Not expressing any kinda hatred or "racism" here, jes' sayin'.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 19, 2014 6:06 AM

@chas, I agree.
When I walk into a McDonald's I expect a bonehead to take my order, and I'm stunned if the stars are aligned and someone does it correctly.

Posted by: ghostsniper at May 19, 2014 6:40 AM

Hey, Bourdain, your in the restaurant business, right? Then why don’t you open an “authentic” Mexican joint? Then shut up.

Posted by: tim at May 19, 2014 9:06 AM

Wow, the ignorance displayed on this thread is really surprising. People eat at chain restaurants here and think they're getting bona fide Mexican cooking? Really? Here's a clue. You're not. I'm Anglo and married into a Mexican family. Not Mexican-American; Mexican. There's a huge difference. Home cooked Mexican food is wonderful, and no, it's not the crap you see served up here. In my humble opinion their recipes are an engineers delight; simple ingredients and recipes that satisfy a need and do so exquisitely. French food is wonderful but their recipes can be quite complex. Mexican recipes tend to be fairly straightforward but the results are oh so good. Tacos de carne asada, carnitas or carne adoba, chiles rellenados, bistek millanesa, tamales, chicken with mole sauce, I can go on and on, the food cooked at home is wonderful, sublime even. Anyone who thinks it's second rate is clueless.

Posted by: D S Craft at May 19, 2014 3:35 PM

Just STFU craft.

Posted by: ghostsniper at May 19, 2014 7:34 PM

Hey Craft, your condescension gets you my graduated response. You can choose where you want to me to start from:

1. Are you serious?
2. What's so funny?
3. Cut the crap.
4. You talk like a sausage.
5. Fuck off

Posted by: chasmatic at May 20, 2014 2:39 AM

Mexican food….SSDD. Pan browned ground meat or steak from a poor cut, guacamole, tacos…soft or hard, frijoles, enough yellow rice to choke a goat, all swimming in some yellowish cheesy blend and topped with a few jalapeños. Mmmmm, sounds delicious.

Posted by: Jack at May 20, 2014 10:53 AM

We must make our food ethnically pure! We must boycott, divest, sanction corrupt, impure imitations of our perfect ethnic cuisine!

Real wine comes from France, not California. Real pizza from Italy, not New York or Chicago. Stop eating that inferior American crap, you tasteless Philistines!

End fusion cuisine! End experimentation in the kitchen! Purity now!

Posted by: ErisGuy at May 21, 2014 3:48 AM

I'm not looking to quarrel with anybody and readily admit that I'm a food philistine. I honestly do not understand all this fervor over food. Fire, meat, and salt works for me. Or pinto beans, water, salt, lard and fire. Or no fire, carrots and cauliflower. Or whatever. I'll eat cake. I'll eat apples. I've been in a hurry in the morning, cracked a few eggs into a glass and downed them. If I'm hungry, I want plenty of it, but I'm not too particular about what it is.

I see these 400 cooking shows just on PBS where people are spending hours piddling around, playing with food it would take me a couple of minutes to eat and go on about my business.

I was under the impression that eating was what I had to do so I could do what needs to be done or what I want to do. What's next? The art of pooping?

Posted by: mushroom at May 21, 2014 6:12 AM

Evidently I'm the only one who remembers when he ate the aardvarks asshole in Africa. Good show.

Posted by: Casca at May 21, 2014 11:16 AM

I like Spam. Spam and: eggs, cheese, bread, celery; fried, cold, warm, right outta the can, on toothpicks with Cheez Whiz and crackers, olives, pickles, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, pineapple, ...

Spam, ya get me?

Posted by: chasmatic at May 21, 2014 9:13 PM

I'm writing a book

~Dood Food~
"Cheap, Tasty, Good for ya"

Load your larder with staples and your rack with spices, create a small herb garden, buy everything in bulk, and get a chest freezer.

Grow food as a hobby, it requires very little but your attention.

Experiment with everything, take notes, eat everything you make unless it is burnt to death, that's the only way you'll learn what not to do.

Lose the gimmicks and improve your techniques.
Basic is better, always.

My wife and I eat 1 meal per day, prepared by me from scratch, and it usually costs about $2 per serving.

Our monthly grocery bill is between $100 and $150 and we eat out very rarely.

This isn't rocket surgery.

Posted by: ghostsniper at May 22, 2014 6:37 AM

I am completely astonished at the hostility here.

I understand that conservative Americans (I'm Canadian, and a snowbird) are justifiably hostile to the unprecedented Mexican invasion of the USA. What does that have to do with Mexican cooks cooking Mexican food in Mexico? Are the hot peppers invading?

I would hope you would be more hostile to your own corrupt politicians encouraging the invasion.

Bourdain is saying that some Mexican food is complex, unique and tasty and that often non-Mexican attempts to reproduce it fail.


I was in Guadalajara 3 months ago and ate some good things (pozole, corn soup) and some not so good. I was in Montana on the weekend and discovered once again that many Americans eat food and drink coffee so foul and awful that I am convinced they do so on purpose to give them strength. A man who can drink Folgers coffee can defeat the Nazis single handed.

But the barbecue was spectacular.

Posted by: Fred Z at May 22, 2014 6:03 PM

Fred, Mexican food is so damned good it makes one wish he were a Mexican. That doesn't diminish the crying need for Anthony Bourdain to receive a punch in the mouth, I don't care that he feels the same way.

Hostility towards Mexican food= 0
Hostility towards Anthony Bourdain= a light brighter than the burning sun

Posted by: Mike James at May 22, 2014 11:44 PM

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