PATI'S MEXICAN TABLE

March 25, 2009 10:01 AM
Tex Mex or Mex Tex
"Can you think of an American dish that has been Mexicanized?" My friend Andrea asked. "It has gone the other way around, no?" I responded, thinking about Tex Mex and the complaints from Mexican food aficionados about Mexican food being Americanized in the US.

But the other way around? As I swam through my childhood memories in Mexico City I was startled by how wrong my natural response had been. Of course there are Mexicanized American foods, and plenty! Where to start? How about those incredible hot dogs my three older sisters and I used to eat at El Galan (translates to the hunk) hot dog stand. We got into so much trouble with my father because of them. As soon as my oldest sister could drive, we stopped on our way back from school to eat one, and why not two, and why not three hot dogs con todo, with all the trimmings.

We were so full by the time we sat down in front of those homemade meals my mother had planned for us, that we could barely fit a bite into our mouths. My father angrily gave us a weekly hot dog allowance and asked my mother not to cook for a couple weeks.

The scheme didn't work.

We compromised.

We would only eat them on Fridays.

These hot dogs were soooo Mexican. El Galan, drizzled some oil on his hot plancha or griddle. He then threw in some chopped white onions, pickled jalapenos, and tomatoes. Then, as they sizzled, he would squirt some ketchup (with some secret ingredient we still can't figure out) and yellow mustard and mix it all up.

He threw a slice of cheddar to crown that delicious mess, he let it melt, and then shoved it into a soft hot dog bun. A steaming hot sausage then sat on top. If that wasn't enough, if you said you wanted your hot dog especial, or special, a couple of crispy bacon slices found their way into that party.

Right now, I would give up all that is in my refrigerator to have one of those.