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Spanish Cuisine’s Influence on Tex Mex Food

That Tex Mex dish you enjoy so much at Mattito’s? You can thank Spain – partly – for it!

Tex Mex food actually comes to us from Mexico, but it wouldn’t be the food we love today without some influence from Spain.

How? Spain colonized Mexico through the early 1500s to 1821. Naturally, Spaniards brought their culture’s foods with them, influencing the cuisine of Mexico (while also being influenced by Mexico’s food).

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Tex Mex cuisine comes to us, in part, from the days of Spanish control over Mexico.

The foods that would become known as Tex Mex, actually come from the Tejanos, who are Texans of Mexican descent. Tex Mex cuisine is a melding of native Spanish and Mexican foods.

Tex Mex food in the South Texas region of the state hasn’t changed much, having always been influenced by the foods found in Mexico’s northern states.

The cuisine started taking on a more Americanized flavor in the 1900s as it added more ingredients such as cheese and used meat as a main ingredient rather than as a side dish.

Wikipedia.com reports that the first known usage of the term “Tex Mex” in reference to the cuisine was found in a 1963 article in New York Times Magazine. The terminology really took off, Wikipedia reports, when the well-known – and influential – food author Diana Kennedy discussed the difference between true Mexican food and Americanized Mexican food in her book (1972), The Cuisines of Mexico.

When the need strikes for great Tex Mex food – and believe us, we know how strong that need for a great taco, fajita, enchilada, burrito, or margarita can be when it strikes – get yourself over to the Mattito’s location nearest you for some delicious Tex Mex cuisine. Contact us today!

Photo courtesy Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Tex Mex Food Can Blast Away the Mid-Winter Blues

While winter here in Texas doesn’t get as cold as it does in Minnesota or Massachusetts, it can ice up on some winter days in some parts of the Lone Star State.

Regardless, it does get darker earlier in the winter months than in the heady days of summer. It often is more cloudy/gloomy.

Also, when it’s dark at 5 p.m. and doesn’t become fully light until 7:30 a.m. in mid-January, it’s very easy for Texans to succumb to the mid-winter blues, too.

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Mid-winter blues have a hold of you? Eat Tex Mex!

Tex Mex food can help beat these winter blues. How?

Read below.

  • Tex Mex food tends to be colorful. Take the fajita. Yes, it’s filled with delicious steak (brown), but don’t forget the gorgeous reds, yellows and greens of the dish’s bell peppers, the fiery reds of tomatoes. The cheerful green of the guacamole. It’s difficult not look at a Tex Mex dish such as the fajita without putting a smile on your face.
  • Tex Mex dishes can also be full of vitamins (all those delicious vegetables) and vitamins are known to keep one’s health optimal and one’s mood high.
  • While they may not be exactly healthy (to put it lightly), refried beans are probably only third or fourth to peanut butter, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese as the perfect comfort food for a dreary day. Refried beans are so stick-to-the-ribs and filling, a serving (or two) on a gloomy day is sure to raise one’s spirits.
  • Not that we want you to over-imbibe, but a single margarita on a cloudy and gloomy day is sure to make you look at the world a little more cheerfully.
  • Many Tex Mex restaurants provide small mariachi bands that walk around the establishment playing lively Mexican love songs and ballads. We absolutely dareyou to listen to a mariachi band and remain blue.

Sure, it’s nearing the end of February and the sun is rising earlier and setting later. But if you still feel yourself battling some sort of mid-winter blahs, visit the Mattito’s location nearest you for some spirits-lifting, delicious Tex Mex cuisine!

Photo courtesy rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Tex Mex Differs from Traditional Mexican Food

Tex Mex food often is used to describe Mexican food in restaurants today.

But real Mexican food – that which is found in Mexico – is quite a bit different from the cuisine we refer to as Tex Mex.

The food we serve here at Mattito’s, got its start from the Tejano culture that’s so vibrant here in Texas. (Tejanos are people of Mexican or even Spanish heritage who lived in Texas before it became a republic). Immigrants from northern Mexico also played a big role in the emergence of Tex Mex food.

Most people referred to the cuisine simply as Mexican food until about the 1970s, when the term Tex Mex rose in Texas to distinguish American “Mexican” cuisine from the cuisine eaten in Mexico.

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Stuffed Beef and Cheese Sopapilla, a delicious Tex Mex dish.

Tex Mex food tends to use a lot of cheese; not so in Mexico. Tex Mex cuisine also uses beef as a main ingredient; rice and beans are a main ingredient in Mexico, with beef used as sort of garnish (for flavor).

Mexico residents tend to eat a lot of chicken and pork.

Enchiladas tend to be smothered in mole or a green tomatillo sauce, rather than cheese.

Cummin also is used considerably in Tex Mex cuisine (this spice is used much more frequently in the northern parts of Mexico and not as frequently in the southern regions).

So whether you refer to it as Mexican food or Tex Mex, come to the Mattito’s location closest to you soon to enjoy some of our absolutely delicious cuisine. Contact us today for more information.

Leepaxton at en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

How Mexico Celebrates Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t just a U.S. day of celebrating romance; residents of Mexico also celebrate the day in a big way.

Celebrated on February 14, the day (known as Dia de San Valentin and El Dia del Amor y la Amistad, “the day of love and friendship), is celebrated similarly as it is here in the U.S., with friends and lovers sending each other candy and flowers.

But there are some things done a bit differently on Valentine’s Day in Mexico.

For example, one thing young Mexicans do is to meet in a park. Young men and women separate and then walk around a kiosk or gazebo in the park in opposite directions. As a boy comes across a girl that he has his eye on, he presents her with a flower. Once they circle around again, if the girl is still holding the flower, it’s a sign that she also is interested in him.

Another, albeit newer, Valentine’s Day tradition is for a committed couple to plaster each other’s car (or their joint car) with notes that contain words of love for one another.

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Valentine’s Day traditions in Mexico are similar to those in the U.S.

Mexicans do send chocolates roses to their loved ones, but they also create hand-made cards and gifts, perhaps a bit more so than people in the United States do.

What’s more, Mexicans will purchase or make gifts and send flowers and candy to their friends: Valentine’s Day in Mexico celebrates friendship as well as romance.

If you’d like to celebrate Valentine’s Day in style, have dinner this year at a Mattito’s location near you. Contact us today for more information.

Image courtesy of nirots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many people might not put “romance” and “Tex Mex food” in the same sentence.

They should.

Mexico – and the Tex Mex food that evolved from it – is one of the most romantic of countries.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Mexicans – both men and women, although men are “accused” of this much more often – can fall in love in just two hours. Often it’s more of a “love at first sight,” yet the men are known for telling their new beloved the equivalent (in Spanish, of course), “Oh, my treasure, I love you so much!”
  • Senoritas as well as senoras are taught from an early age in the fine art of attracting male attention. They learn how to dress in flirty clothes (colorful dresses and skirts, lots of cleavage and plenty of lovely red lips), high heels, tight jeans (when not wearing a dress or skirt), and jewelry.
  • Mexican women don’t know how to say “I’d like a beige dress, please.” Color, color, color! Is what they want. Red and pink especially!
  • Mexican women definitely expect doors to be opened for them, flowers to be presented to them, dinner to be bought for them, and sweet nothings whispered into their ears. Mexican men are only too happy to comply.
  • Mexicans love a great fiesta. They celebrate with gusto, lots of food, drink, music, and color.
  • It’s impossible to be depressed listening to traditional Mexican music. We dare you to try.
  • Love-lost ballads are some of the saddest of the sad. We dare you not to cry when you hear – and understand – one.
  • Tela novelas.  These Mexican soap operas really know how to put the opera in these daily television shows. They are like American soap operas on steroids: plenty of drama, romance, intrigue, affairs, murders of passion. You name it, it’s in a Mexican tela novela.
  • Don Quijote went on a quest. There’s little that’s more romantic. Don Juan purportedly seduced thousands of women (and we doubt he did so without knowing how to properly romance a lady). Sure, both dons hail from Spain, but much of Mexican culture today comes from the decades of Spanish rule. Spanish romantic traditions have stuck around, big time….

Mexican and Tex Mex restaurants are made for romance. Valentine’s Day is the day for romance in the United States, so….

…make sure you take your love to Mattito’s to celebrate on February 14. Contact the Mattito’s nearest you.

Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tex Mex Food Ideas for Your Super Bowl Party

Tex Mex food is delicious. A Super Bowl party needs delicious foods to serve to your guests, so it’s a great idea to serve some great Tex Mex dishes when the New England Patriots play Seattle Seahawks on February 1.

Read below for some Tex Mex dish ideas for your Super Bowl party.

Dips always are popular on Super Bowl Sunday. Many people nosh on potato and tortilla chips as they watch the game, so a Tex Mex-style layered bean dip is perfect for those eating tortilla chips.

The chopped veggies (tomatoes, avocados and black olives), black beans, and salsa provide a good amount of good-for-you dietary fiber.

Fajitas also make a great dish to provide your guests. Serve them with hot grilled vegetables and you also provide your guests with a healthy meal.

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Sizzling hot fafitas served with grilled vegetables is a tasty and healthy dish to serve at your Super Bowl party.

You undoubtedly will want to serve a guacamole dip. Add fresh celery to it and you’ve added some crunch as well as helped lighten the dip.

Combine the best of hot and comfort at your party with a chili cornbread pie. It’s basically a casserole that begins with a layer of chili, then a layer of cornbread. After baking, top it with sour cream, guacamole, olives, and shredded cheese. While not a true Tex Mex dish, this casserole combines the best of comfort food (cheesy dip, yum!) with spicy chili.

Speaking of comfort food, there’s little more comforting and rib sticking than macaroni and cheese. Why not serve it Tex Mex-style by spicing it up with chiles, chorizo and a topping made or tortilla chips?

Mini Tex Mex cheeseburgers are sure to be a hit with your guests. Place tiny grilled burger patties on small buns (think slider-sized) and garnish with sliced avocado, Monterey Jack cheese and salsa.

Mattito’s caters parties! If you’d like to cater your Super Bowl party, check out the Mattito’s catering service near you. We can accommodate parties from a handful of guests to several dozen.

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do Spicy Foods Help in Weight Loss?

You may have heard that spicy foods help in weight loss. Do they?

They can!

Researchers have found that all of us have what is known as brown fat and white fat in our bodies. Our white fat tends to lead to weight gain, while the brown fat can help our bodies lose weight because brown fat burns more calories.

So how can someone get more brown fat? Cold temperatures are said to help. (So don’t turn on the space heaterunder your desk when chilly at owrk; put on a light sweater and enjoy the “act” of creating more calorie-burning brown fat in your body as you shiver lightly.)

Spicy food also helps. Researchers in 2013 published a study in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care in which they reported that they gave a group of people with little or no brown fat capsinoids (naturally present in chili peppers) each day for six weeks. At the end of the research study, this group of people burned calories at a higher rate and had lower body fat at the end of the study (compared to a control group that didn’t consume the capsinoids).

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Who knew!? Chili con carne and other hot and spicy Tex Mex dishes can help boost your metabolism and aid in weight loss.

 So if spicy foods can help you raise your metabolism, it’s time to eat more Tex-Mex food! You will be, to paraphrase the slogan, eating great and losing weight!

Most Tex Mex food can be made as spicy – or not – as you’d like. Most dishes aren’t spicy at all and you actually may need to ask your server to make sure the chef piles on the spices (per your taste, of course).

Chile relleno is an entrée that tends to be spicy all on its own.

You also can definitely add lots of salsa onto any meal – spice it up to taste. You can also spread the salsa on tortilla chips (or dip the chips in the salsa).

If you’d like to enjoy Tex Mex cuisine as spicy as you can stand it, visit a Mattito’s nearest you and let your server know you like your dishes hot and spicy!

Image courtesy of tiramisustudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Keep Your Weight Loss Resolution: Eat Tex Mex

The top New Year’s resolution each year tends to be to lose weight/get healthy.

There’s an easy to way to keep this resolution in 2015: eat more Tex Mex food!

Before you place your hands on your face as you gasp in horror (“Tex Mex healthy? Lose weight? Why it’s laden with sauces and cheeses and the tortilla chips and guacamole and the fatty beef just make me gain a pound just thinking about it!”), consider this: Tex Mex food actually can be very healthy. You just have to make wise choices.

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Yes, it is possible to eat Tex Mex food and look like this. It’s just all about making healthy food choices for your Tex Mex meals.

Let’s take the simple taco as an example. Sure, pour on the cheese, make sure it’s full of fatty ground beef, ladle on the guacamole saucen and eat two or three large tacos and you’re definitely eating several hundred fat-rich calories.

But eat a fish or chicken taco (or one with lean shredded beef), put just a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese on top, forgo the guacamole, and add more cut/diced tomatoes instead and you have a much healthier meal.

In fact, forget about the tortilla all together and make your taco more of a salad or even a sizzling fajita and you’ll save the carb calories from the taco shell.

Fajitas, actually, can be quite healthy. Ask your server to load your dish up with vegetables and ask for chicken or fish for your meat. Skip the refried beans for a side (ask for black beans if you just need to have beans – and believe us, we understand the need for some great beans with you meal). Say no to the side of rice and ask for steamed veggies instead.

Whenever you eat at a Tex Mex restaurant such as Mattito’s, simply ask for lean beef (or substitute chicken or fish), skip the chips, rice, beans, and guacamole and ask for black beans and lots of vegetables. There you’ll have it: a delicious, healthy meal, one that will help you keep your 2015 New Year’s resolution to lose weight and eat healthier foods.

Good luck with any resolutions you’ve made for this New Year!

Image courtesy of stockimagess/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 Reasons You Should Eat More Tex Mex Food in 2015

Most people make New Year’s resolutions that have them giving something up. They resolve to quit smoking. They promise themselves they won’t eat so much (they will diet). They say they intend to sit around less and instead exercise more.

Here at Mattito’s, we think you should do morein 2015. As in, we feel you should eat more Tex Mex cuisine in the coming year.

Here are four reasons why:

  1. It’s delicious. Tex Mex food is full of meats, fish, beans, vegetables, cheese, sauces, and spices. In fact, it’s those spices – from the very mild to the muy caliente – that bring out the flavor in the vegetables and the meats, making Tex Mex dishes a feast for your taste buds.

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Resolve to eat more Tex Mex food in 2015.

  1. It’s very colorful. It may be a cliché, but with the generous use of tomatoes; red, yellow and green peppers; cheese; green guacamole; and more, Tex Mex dishes are a “party on a plate.” Plus, your meal is full of good vitamins and minerals, courtesy of those colorful vegetables.
  2. It’s very satisfying. A great Tex Mex meal is one with meat (beef, fowl or fish), vegetables and beans. It therefore has plenty of protein for satiety and veggies and beans for health. You can eat a hearty Tex Mex lunch and not even need to worry about being hungry for the rest of the day (and it won’t be because you’re stuffed, but because you’re satisfied).
  3. It’s healthy. Yes, you can smother your meal in cheese and cheese sauces. But no one’s forcing you to do so. In fact, if you come to Mattito’s to eat, you can ask for less-fat dishes and we’re happy to comply. But with all the vegetables, beans and lean meats you can eat in a Tex Mex meal, you can rest assured that you’re providing your body with lots of healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Our Mattito’s locations will close at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and will be closed all of New Year’s Day. But if you’d like to get 2015 off to a great start, come eat with us on January 2 – or just about any day of 2015.

There’s a Mattito’s near you and eat more Tex Mex dishes throughout the year!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Celebrating the New Year in Mexico

Mexico is a country filled with people who love a party. Celebrating the New Year gives Mexico’s residents a good reason to celebrate in a big way.

Just as in the U.S., most celebrations take place the evening before, on New Year’s Eve.

Families decorate their homes in festive colors, with each color representing what the family hopes for in the coming year. Yellow connotes better employment conditions, and green is a sign the family wants to have a better financial situation. Red means family members want an overall improvement in their lives. White means improved health.

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What do grapes have to do with celebrating the New Year in Mexico? Keep reading.

The family serves Mexican sweet bread that was baked earlier with a charm or coin hidden in the dough. The guest who receives a slice of the bread with the coin/charm is supposed to have good luck throughout the coming year.

A popular activity is to write a list of all of the unhappy or bad things that happened in the previous 12 months and, at midnight, throw the list into a fire. This symbolizes removing negative energy from one’s life as the New Year arrives.

Mexicans celebrate the New Year with a late dinner with friends and family. A traditional New Year’s Eve meal is pork loin or turkey. Once done eating, many families head outside to attend parties.

In the U.S., we count down the seconds right before midnight. In Mexico, people eat one grape at each of the last 12 seconds as the clock moves toward midnight, making a wish as they eat each one.

All Mattito’s locations close at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and we’ll be closed all of New Year’s Day. If you’d like to celebrate early, stop by the Mattito’s closest to you and enjoy some great Tex Mex dishes to ring in the New Year!

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net