Dear James May, About that Mexican Food comment...
I'm not here to make a fuss, James. I'm here to review a burrito, and talk to FoodTribe about a cuisine ~90% of the world can't seem to get right.
If I wasn't of Mexican decent, living in Southern California, I would probably think Top Gear's James May was spot on when describing Mexican food as "refried sick". The perception of Mexican food outside of Mexico, and it's bordering US states, is fairly inaccurate. However, inauthenticity is not the culprit for all mediocre Mexican food. Even Mexican-inspired dishes seem to poorly illustrate the Mexican part of the dish. Personally, I've noticed it's a lack of understanding the depth of Mexican gastronomy. And potentially, not having the demographic needed in your neighborhood to inspire such cookery. Many restaurants and food manufacturers, domestic and abroad, have narrowed the scope of this cuisine down to convenient, cheap, spicy food... and tacos. Which, sadly, is why people seem to accept "refried sick with cheese" as Mexican food.
Professional food critiques have identified several regional styles that make Mexican food such a complicated subject to observe. Food-idles like Gordon Ramsey and Anthony Bourdain have compared the quality of food from Mexico's state, Oaxaca, to that of Lyon, France (the gastronomy capital of the world). This is the result of an overwhelming infatuation European settlers had for indigenous Mexican cuisine. The culmination took traditional Spanish, French, and Mediterranean recipes, combined them with local resources, and produced masterpieces like the Taco, the Enchilada, Ceviche, and many other magnificent dishes.
Danny Trejo and Anthony Bourdain at Trejo's Cantina, probably looking to fight James for his views on Mexican food - Courtesy of Anthony Bourdain's Parts' Unknown Facebook
I wanna apologize if you were expecting some dramatic rant directed at Captain Slow. I'm not writing this because I was affronted by the Top Gear trio's banter from nearly a decade ago. Instead, I'm owing to the fact that most of the world doesn't know what to expect from proper Mexican food -- in the same way James might argue that I don't know a thing about proper English food. As a result, I will begin writing Mexican food reviews, to help gather perspective on this controversial ambrosia.
The following is not just a review, but a recommendation for Dr. May, from the burrito capital of the world, San Diego.
An off menu experiment, the Rock & Roll Burrito. (aka La Roca Rodar)
Yesenia's Mex Food #3 - Rock & Roll Burrito
With specific jabs at the mushy context of refried beans, James has addressed a common obstacle with many Mexican food haters. The saucy consistency. However, this isn't a particular problem when you have other well made proteins, tortillas, and ingredients of different consistency to add texture.
Yes, most burritos have a soft constancy due to the nature of their packaging. Flour tortilla wrapped around chopped up ingredients = a pouch of food. With that being a focal point, the Rock'n'Roll burrito should be much more your style for a handful of reasons. 1.) No mushy guacamole, but instead, whole chunks of avocado. 2.) Fresh Pico de Gillo. Basically, not-so-wet salsa. The tomato, onion, and cilantro add a refreshing characteristic to the burrito. 3.) Pollo Asada. Well seasoned grilled chicken, with a nice char, makes up the heart of this dish. 4.) Mexican fried rice, helps soak up the juices from the meat, veggies, and salsa. 5.) Crisp lettuce... for the crunch, that's it. 6.) Cotija cheese, named after the Mexican town it originates from, this adds a tanginess and saltiness that really makes this burrito pop.
This burrito has it all, but you can't just go to any Yesenia's Mexican restaurant to get it. You gotta stop by #3 in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, California. And make sure Tony is working... I know this information officially seems worthless due to travel restraints and specifications, but follow my page and you can keep up to date on these fantastic, inexpensive, Mexican dishes anyone can find when visiting Southern California.
Here's a sneak peak of what's next...
Is that the legendary California Burrito?!
Thank you for the privilege of your time,
- The Angry Somm