Culture

Mexican-Inspired Dishes That People Think Are Mexican But Are Not Even Close To The Original

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A note to aspiring restauranteurs: Mexican food doesn’t mean putting a dollop of sour cream, cheddar cheese and pico de gallo on an entree. Try to push the envelop and really elevate the dishes millions of people love. Change up the ingredients or change the flavor palate to truly make your take on the dish unique and exciting. Also, don’t claim the food is authentic this or that. Be honest and just say it is inspired by something. That will go over so much better. Here are some foods that missed the mark.

1. Chipotle’s queso dip

Chipotle arguably does a lot of stuff right. Their burrito, fajita and carnitas bowls are delicious, especially when drizzled with guacamole. Even their burritos are something everyone should enjoy at least once. However, when the casual chain decided to release a queso dip, the restaurant got into a sticky situation with dissatisfied customers. The soup-y like consistency of the dip did not get rave reviews and even affected stock prices.

2. Pea guacamole

We are still shuddering at the fact that peas and guacamole can be put in the same context, but that’s the food travesty that New York Times columnist and cookbook author Melissa Clark introduced to the internet to back in 2015. Twitter erupted with foodie backlash about the recipe saying they would not be using peas in his guac recipe.

Even President Barack Obama took a stand on the issue.

Imagine your recipe being so ridiculous that even the president of the United States takes time to tweet about it.

3. Hard shell tacos

The crunch sound you hear while eating at a Mexican restaurant should either come from chips or some bomb flautas and taquitos. Sure. You might find some hard shell tacos in Mexico but they are usually in super tourist neighborhood and restaurants. Instead, just use two soft corn tortillas, which make for a great time.

4. Canned red sauce for enchiladas

We aren’t above using canned food shortcuts to re-create some of our favorite Mexican dishes, but when it comes to enchilada sauce, homemade is best. You can taste the difference when you are digging your fork into some bright red sauce sprinkled with cheddar cheese versus a homemade sauce topped with some queso fresco.

5. Esquites with crushed red pepper

The former La Mexicana Cantina & Grill in Miami served up our beloved esquites with crushed red pepper flakes. Yes, *those* red chili flakes from your fave pizza joint. There is nothing wrong with using those flakes for food and flavor, but try sticking to the powder pepper we are all used too. This just strays to far into Italian territory.

6. Taco salad bowls

Another food item on your run-of-the-mill, non-authentic Mexican food restaurant is a salad slapped with a helping of lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, black beans and corn housed in a taco shell bowl. According to research done by writer Gustavo Arellano, taco bowls were not invented by a Mexican chef, but by none other than the founder of Fritos chips, Elmer Doolin. A Mexican family may have run Doolin’s Southern California restaurant, but to us, it’s not technically a true Mexican entree.

7. Chimichangas

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Treat yo’ self 👏 #chimichanga

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This deep-fried burrito dish was first served up in Arizona in the 1920s according to urban legend, when the owner of a Mexican restaurant dropped a burrito in the deep fryer by accident. We get that burritos are Mexican and they are delicious, but these need to be marketed as Tex-Mex and never as Mexican cuisine.


READ: These South American Foods Are Getting A Revamped Kick Thanks To Some Clever Fusions

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Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

Culture

Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When visiting the National Hispanic Cultural Center campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it’s easy to write-off the upside-down, bucket shape form rising from the ground. It stands alone with no distinguishing marks. There are no large crowds to hint at the remarkable secret hidden inside. Visitors will know they are in the right place when the gray asphalt and concrete beneath their feet morph into red—matching the building’s exterior.

Two, towering wood doors mark the entry into the nondescript building.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When the doors swing open, it’s impossible to avoid looking up because the vibrant colors of the ceiling act as a magnet, drawing eyes upwards. Step into the 45-foot dome-shaped structure to get a better look, and there, in the small Southwest town of less than 1 million, the largest fresco painting in North America wraps around the ceiling.

El Torreón is the name of the structure which houses Mundos de Mestizaje.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The larger-than-the-Sistine-Chapel fresco made by Frederico Vigil. It took the Santa Fe native almost three years to have it approved and 10 years to complete it. The aerial artwork depicts thousands of years of Hispanic and pre-Hispanic history. Depending on your cultural background, some iconography is easy to spot and place in history. If you’re Mexican, La Virgen de Guadalupe, a portrait of the beloved civil rights leader Benito Juárez and the eagle, serpent, and nopal from Mexico’s coat of arms will stand out. But walk around the room, or sit in one of the lounging chairs that allow visitors to tip back and view the work at 180 degrees, and soon you’ll realize there are hidden figures among the more popular markers of Mexican and Indigenous identity.

“I’m a mixed man with many different bloodlines,” Vigil says on a phone call. “I’m mestizo. I wanted to show the history of what that means.”

For the project, Vigil consulted with seven scholars on Mesoamerican and Spanish historical culture in order to create an accurate depiction of the past.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

He says that just by looking at the Iberian Peninsula, there’s a mix of Romans, Celts, Muslims, and Phoenicians which is all tied into Spanish identity. Then, with the Americas, there’s Maya, Aztec and Toltec. The history of these lines iS not linear. They overlap, intertwine and blend together in a dizzying ride that Vigil worked to bring to life in Mundos de Mestizaje. 

The purpose is to show the viewer how interconnected and far-reaching culture is. Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd is depicted sitting next to Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, a Medieval Torah scholar, and physician. Chacmool, the pre-Columbian sculpture found throughout Mesoamerica shares space with George Washington and an African slave. 

“There are no purebloods, we are all mixed—or perhaps the only people who can say they are of pure blood are the Amazons or indigenous tribes that have lived in isolation,” Vigil says. “When people begin to study the past, they realize we, as a society, are not genetically one thing.”

Vigil learned the art of fresco painting from Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Pope Dimitroff. The couple might not be household names outside of the art community, but their bosses were. Bloch and Dimitroff were assistants to the world-renowned Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. 

Vigil connected with the couple thanks to the Santa Fe Council for The Arts.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The organization reached out to Vigil to gauge his interest in a scholarship learning from the pair. Now in their 70s, the two aging artists were making strides to ensure their knowledge was passed down to a new generation of creators. Art lessons were accompanied by tales of the past that included Kahlo, Rivera, and friends such as Leon Trotsky. There, he learned the complicated and time-consuming process of fresco painting.

A surface is rough plastered with a mix of lime, sand, and cement. On average, a layer takes 10-12 hours to dry. A painter can go to work an hour into the drying process and usually has between seven to nine hours of time to complete their design. The art then needs 7-10 days between coats. If the painter messes up, they have to scrape off the layers and begin again.

“I’m a procrastinator but when the wall is wet, you have to paint,” says Vigil. “Each painting is a new experience. It doesn’t get old.”

Vigil is currently working on a new 2,500-plus square foot monumental fresco at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

His new work tells the tale of New Mexico’s history as the oldest state in the U.S. to produce wine. He says the piece could take four to six years to complete. He’s currently in his second year.

The hours for the Torreón (where the fresco is housed) are Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 p.m., plus it is open by appointment, which can be scheduled with Juanita Ramírez at Juanita.ramirez@state.nm.us or 505-383-4774. The NHCC presents concerts in the Torreón in partnership with the Pimentel & Sons Guitar Makers. The Torreón is available for rentals under certain circumstances and with some restrictions. 

READ: 20 Bizarre Nail Art Ideas That I Just Will Never Understand

Here’s Why Activists And Parents Are Upset About A New Weight Loss App For Children

Culture

Here’s Why Activists And Parents Are Upset About A New Weight Loss App For Children

This week, WW, the ridiculously rebranded name for weight loss company Weight Watchers, proved that despite its new designation, the global brand is offering more of the same problematic trash to the world — this time, directed at children in particular.

On Tuesday, WW launched Kurbo, a nutrition and weight loss app for kids between the ages of 8 and 17 years old.

Not surprisingly health experts are furious about the danger it could pose to the physical and mental health of our young people.

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“You NEED to Shut. This. Down,” Whitney Fisch, a social worker, school counselor and mom of three, wrote Wednesday on Facebook. “All bodies, especially growing + developing bodies, deserve respect + the ability to grow into whatever shape they’re meant to grow to be.”

The company describes the app, which is free, as a “scientifically-proven behavior change program designed to help kids and teens age 8-17 reach a healthier weight” that was acquired from Stanford University’s Pediatric Weight Control Program. It uses a traffic light system to instruct youth on foods that they should eat and those that they should avoid. Kids are urged to eat plenty of “green light” foods, including fruits and vegetables, to be “mindful” of their portions of “yellow light” foods, like lean protein, whole grains and dairy, and to lessen their intake of “red light” foods, such as sugary drinks and “treats.” The app also encourages users to track their daily physical activity and deep breathing.

With a paid, subscription-based plan, children can also receive through the app one-on-one sessions with coaches that are supposed to be experts in nutrition, exercise, and mental health. However, the Huffington Post reports that these coaches do not need to have any credentials in health or nutrition fields; though they do go through a minimum of six to eight hours of initial training.

Eating disorder treatment experts are concerned about the impact an app like Kurbo could have on a young person’s mental health, self-esteem and eating habits.

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“While the intention of the app is to promote health and wellness, there is the risk that it could do more harm than good,” Kathryn Argento, a registered dietician with The Renfrew Center, a national network of eating disorder treatment centers for women and girls, told the Huffington Post. “Targeting kids as young as 8 years old to focus on … their bodies can lead to an intense preoccupation with food, size, shape and weight.”

Aside from the damaging impact apps like this one can have on a children’s relationship with their bodies and food, public health organizations and pediatricians also doubt the efficacy of children’s weight loss programs altogether.

“The evidence suggests that these types of tools may be helpful adjuncts to weight management, but there are few studies in pediatrics to confirm that they lead to a ‘meaningful change in their weight trajectories,’” Dr. Ihuoma Eneli, director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, told the news outlet.

As part of WW’s rebranding, the company and app have chosen to start focusing on overall health and wellness in addition to weight loss.

According to Gary Foster, chief scientific officer at WW, Kurbo “isn’t a weight loss app.”

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“This is an app that teaches in a game-ified, fun, engaging way what are the basics of a healthy eating pattern,” he told the Huffington Post.

But parents still worry the app could be spreading an all-too-familiar message that they are unworthy as they are and must change their physical appearance to be accepted. While young people already receive these memos from a diet-obsessed mass media, parents fear that unrealistic beauty ideals are now being pushed on impressionable children in the name of health and wellness.

In response to these apprehensions, Foster said: “I think there could be some misperception that somehow we’re saying, ‘All kids should lose weight, you’re not OK as you are.’ What we’re saying to kids who are trying to achieve a healthier weight — kids and families — is that this is a reasonable, sensible way to do it.”

But despite this alleged kid-friendly wellness mission, Kurbo’s website sends another message.

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Its landing page shows young people’s “success stories,” and they’re celebrating weight loss, not how often they meditate or how many ounces of water they drink daily.

“There’s no way that these kids don’t realize that the app is supposed to help them lose weight,” Ginny Jones, an eating disorder recovery activist, said. “No matter how hard it tries to market itself as a wellness company, WW is about weight loss. Kids are way smarter than we think they are, and every ‘big kid’ who [has been] put on a weight loss program knew exactly what their parents were trying to do.”

Read: She Shared Stories Of Being Fat-Shamed At The Doctor And Fear Of Wearing A Two-Piece Then, Jessica Torres Accidentally Built One Of The Biggest Body Positive Communities

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