Mission: Mexican Food
I was born and raised in California. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that persons of Hispanic or Latino origin make up over 35% of the population. Now, I’m not saying that those 35% have roots in Mexico. I realize the diversity of ethnicities and cultures from the countries of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. However, I also know Mexican food. And I grew up around a lot of Mexican food.
Mexican food is ubiquitous in California. I feel pretty confident that I never went a week without eating Mexican food while growing up in California. When my family moved to The Bahamas for a couple of years when I was 8- and 9-years-old, my mom still made Mexican food for us whenever possible. When I moved to Hawaii for high school, it was harder to find, but my older sister—who was my guardian—made some mean tacos and burritos. Still, it was good to move back to the mainland U.S.A. after high school, where even in northern Oregon, delicious, cheap, and authentic Mexican food could be found at places like La Sirenita and Javier’s.
Now, I’ve lived in Vancouver for 5 years, and I love Canada. I definitely have getting Canadian citizenship on my To Do list. I don’t ever want to move back to the U.S., but I would probably give one of my pinky fingers to be able to get a delicious chile relleno platter with fresh corn tortillas for under $10.
To me, Mexican food must be four things:
1. Recognizable as Mexican food. I once had THE WORST Mexican food ever at some place on Lonsdale. First of all, I would hope that my Mexican food would be prepared by someone who has actually been to Mexico or, at the very least, someone who knows someone who has ever been to Mexico. And I can tell you that the person that served me probably couldn’t meet either of those criteria. But really, when it comes down to it, this is optional. What is not optional is that if the food is advertised as Mexican, it should be Mexican! I’m sorry, but “Mexican rice” is NOT white rice with some cubes of carrots sprinkled on top! Yuck!
2. Delicious. This is a no-brainer. Lard and cheddar cheese definitely helps here (also see #3 below).
3. Authentic. I do not want some Mexican-Canadian fusion. I do not want a “modern” take on Mexican food. And as much as I usually try to eat healthy, I don’t want whole wheat tacos or an advertisement as I walk in that says, “We’re a lard-free establishment.” When I am eating Mexican food, I am not looking for organic labels. Please do not sprinkle goat cheese on top of my enchiladas de pollo. I just want the same ol’ delicious Mexican foods I’ve been eating my entire life.
4. Cheap! La Sirenita serves up a huge chile relleno platter with 3 corn tortillas for $8 USD. Javier’s offers a plate of carne asada nachos that weighs about 5 pounds and can serve two for $5 USD. I’ve spent a lifetime eating inexpensive Mexican food. I just can’t separate “delicious” and “cheap” when I think about Mexican food. And I don’t want to. I believe in value. And I want good value for my money when it comes to Mexican or any other kind of food.
So, basically, it is this quest that has been the real impetus for starting “Vancouver Bites!” I was complaining one day to a friend and I said, “Vancouver bites when it comes to Mexican food!” Then I thought, because the pun is the highest form of comedy (after sarcasm), “Vancouver Bites!” would be a great name for a blog. It would express my disillusionment over Vancouver’s Mexican food offerings, yet also indicate the main purpose of the blog, which is Vancouver food or “bites.”
My mission is to find delicious and authentic Mexican food at a great value. If you have any suggestions for me, please leave them here. I will take all suggestions under advisement as I chronicle my Mexican food mission. Stay tuned.