University of Houston Lecture: Texas Mexican Cuisine
This is a bookmark for students of yesterday’s class, part of the course, “Mexican American Culture,” at the University of Houston.The central, gulf coast and southern regions of Texas are the ancestral homelands of indigenous peoples, like the Karnkawas, Tonkawas, Coapites, our ancestors, who taught us the culinary techniques, ingredients and tools that we use today in Mexican American homes. This is the site of the Olmos Dam archaeological dig in San Antonio. Found during a construction project in 1980’s, archaeologists believe this to be an earth oven. The Olmos Dam site is 100 acres large and was home to generations of Native Americans, ancestors of today’s San Antonio Mexican Americans. Baking, roasting, steaming and other techniques are handed down from generation to the next. The date of this San Antonio earth oven has been fixed at between 4,000 and 4,5000 years ago (Dial et al. August 2010).
These are some of the dishes that we discussed during the class: Agua de Jamaica, Albóndigas de Chile Ancho, and Chile Relleno. All of the dishes use chiles (Well, not the Agua de Jamaica. That has vodka). But remember that chiles are for flavor and aroma, not for the level of capsaicin. If you emphasize the level of “heat” and are going down the path of “killer” this or “3 alarm” that, you’ve taken the wrong culinary turn. It’s about the taste, flavor, aroma.I have a select bibliography about Texas Indians and Texas Mexican food. If you’d like a copy, please leave a comment or email me.
Let’s talk again and, next time, do some cooking.
Dial, Susan, and Steve Black. Texas Beyond History, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, University of Texas at Austin, “Olmos Dam.” Last modified August 2010. Accessed April 16, 2014.