Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Dear Mexican: I love ethnic foods, and I always ask people of ethnic origins which local restaurants at which they like to eat. Whenever I ask a Mexican what Mexican restaurants they like best, the answer is always, “I don’t like the way any of them make their food.”

I live in Phoenix, which has a Mexican restaurant on every corner that is run by Mexicans. Don’t tell me that they all Americanize their food for us gabachas. What gives?

Fajita-less in Phoenix

Dear Gabacha: Phoenix and the cities around it have a great Mexican food scene, from the alta cocina fare at Barrio Café to the Globe-style buttered burritos at Casa Reynoso in Tempe to un chingo of Sonoran eateries with their fabulous caldo de queso, the greatest soup on Earth. But it’s never good enough for Mexicans. Oh, we’ll go out to eat at Mexican spots, but no one can cook like their mami or primos during a carne asada Sunday, and especially not in el Norte, because … well, because, OK?

Don’t question Mexicans! Such Mexican arrogance filters down to our soccer squad—and now you know why El Tri won’t ever get to even the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup until Cuauhtémoc himself becomes our forward. And I’m not talking about Blanco …

Dear Mexican: I moved to the United States 15 years ago from Mexico as a student, and now I am a full U.S. citizen with a great job. However, now that I’m married (to a Mexican who also came to the U.S. with a student visa), and we have a son born here, I’m aware of the challenges he will have to face in his life as a Mexican American. I would like to prepare myself and read all I can so I can help him develop without any traumas and complexes so he can be a happy individual.

Atento en Austin

Dear Attentive in Austin: N’ombre, you realize that EVERY kid born of Mexican parents in the United States comes out immediately fucked up in the caveza, right? Not only do the Americans consider him a perpetual potential wetback; the Mexican relatives will always ridicule how un-Mexican he is. He also gets marked with the psychological baggage of being from ni de aquí ni de allá (neither from here nor there) and having to live up that legendary quote in Selena by the Tex-Mex martyr’s fictional father: “We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time! It’s exhausting!”

I mean, pioneering Mexican anthropologist Manuel Gamio was writing about this pathology back in 1930 when he introduced “pocho” to the world in his Mexican Immigration to the United States. So while you are a good papi to want to help him navigate los Estados Unidos as a Mexican American, know that it’ll be harder to get him to adulthood without any psychological baggage than it is to get Americans to give a shit about all the dead in Mexico’s drug wars caused by their love of heroin.

Dear Mexican: The other day, I was listening to the morning show on a popular Los Angeles rock station, and their caller contest was “worst smells,” or something along those lines. A caller referred to his involvement as a military “adviser” to some unnamed South American or Central American nation, and spoke of the horrible smells of the charred remains of Sandinistas, the jungle and napalm, post-U.S. air strike. The giddy DJs then reveled in the idea of smoldering Sandinistas as though they were a plate of sizzling-hot fajitas.

Seeing as the most popular slurs for Latinos involve food, is it safe to assume that most gabachos are really just closet Hannibal the Cannibals?

Gabachas Love to Eat Me

Dear Pocho: Nah, they’re It, shape-shifting according to our fears. Learn from the Losers, and ignore them—they ain’t nothing but payasos, anyway!

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Dear Mexican: Why is Mexican Spanish so maligned by the rest of the Hispanic world (even Dominicans!)? It doesn’t make any sense to me, but am I making a mistake in learning Mexican-accented Spanish?

No Puedo Usar Accentos

Dear I Can’t Use Accents: Have you ever talked to Colombians? At some point, they inevitably say that their Spanish is the best in the world, that someone from the Real Academia Española said it was so, and therefore, it’s true. While I like Colombians (they’re as happy and drunk and angry as us Mexicans, and they gave the world cumbia), that’s an urban legend as preposterous as the one that maintains the husband of a jealous lover murdered Javier Solís.

It’s true that the rest of Latin America trashes Mexican Spanish for supposedly being lower-class than other Spanish varieties, but EVERYONE trashes everyone’s Spanish. Argentine Spanish gets mocked for being wannabe Italian; Cuban and Puerto Rican Spanish gets grilled for being lightning-fast garble. Peruvian Spanish is supposedly too soft-spoken; Central American Spanish is considered backwater for their continued use of voseo (the second person singular pronoun vos).

Even Mexicans make fun of each other’s Spanish. Guadalajara natives are notorious for saying “O, sea” (the fresa version of “I mean, like”); rural folks are ridiculed as sing-song chúntaros. Mexico City is so large that two Spanishes are ascribed to it: the matter-of-fact tone of capitalinos (the rich) and the hilariously vulgar babadas of the chilangos (the poor). And all Latin Americans trash indigenous folks for not even knowing Spanish, period.

So learn Mexican Spanish—that’s the one the majority of Latinos in the U.S. speak, anyway. And my vote for the best Español? Chilean Spanish, cachai?

Dear Mexican: A dear friend of ours has married a Mexican man, who is now our dear friend. They have invited us to his sister’s wedding in Mexico.

By North American standards, we barely know her. We would love to go, but we want to be sure that it is appropriate. What is expected of an acquaintance in this circumstance?

Vivacious for Vallarta

Dear Gabacho: You do realize Mexico is part of North America, right? Let’s start with knowing basic geographical facts about the host country before visiting it. It’s pendeja gabachas like you who make hotel workers continue to shove toothbrushes up their culos, then take pictures of that ass affront with the smartphone you left in your room while you’re getting drunk at the pool bar from your fifth Adios Mother Fucker.

Dear Mexican: I was wondering: What the origin is of so many Mexican-food restaurants having the word “Agave” in it?

#3 Combo, Extra Sour Cream

Dear Gabacho: “So many”? Betcha more Mexican restaurants get named for the owner’s hometown/home state, or tacos, or they use a -berto’s suffix than there are restaurants using “Agave.” But the word offers a fascinating insight into the history of Mexican-food restaurant aesthetics.

They started getting named after the mother plant of tequila back in the 1980s, during the Southwestern cuisine craze. Back then, chefs overloaded on Southwestern signifiers—agave paintings and silhouettes of howling coyotes and Kokopelli, mostly—to advertise their “authenticity,” much like modern-day taquerías bump Vicente Fernández on the jukebox, or mariscos spots employ waitress who follow the gospel of #chichischrist and #nalgamedios.

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Dear Mexican: As you’ve said before, Mexicans lack education. Why? Why don’t they care that a high school education is not enough in this 21st century? I see exceptions to the rule, but the rule seems to be “No More School After High School.” I don’t get it.

Educated Gabacho

Dear Gabacho: Misquote alert! I’ve never said that Mexicans “lack education.” I might’ve discussed dismal high school graduation rates in the past, and wished for more Mexicans in college—but that’s far different from how you’re painting my past thoughts.

While we’re on the subject of rhetoric, a quick critical thinking lesson: When saying something is a “rule” in making a quantitative argument, you should at least shoot for a supermajority figure to bolster your claim. As it turns out, a 2013 Pew Research Center study showed that 69 percent of Latino high school graduates from the class of 2012 (a supermajority, of course) enrolled in college, while only 14 percent of their peers dropped out of high school.

The gabacho enrollment rate that same year? 67 percent.

I’ve seen exceptions to the rule, but the rule seems to be “No More Pinche Pendejo Gabachos Asking Pendejo Questions.”

What’s with the surge in restaurants from other grupos like Filipinos, Chinese, Salvadorian and other Latin American countries that advertise Mexican food on their menu? They go as far to add “And Mexican Food” to their logo!

Isn’t it hard enough to make authentic food for a native country, let alone add a second subgroup of food to the list? Are restaurants attempting to capitalize más feria with Mexican food to their menu? Or has comida mexicana come under attack from its commercial notoriety with the gringos over the years thanks to Taco Bell and Chipotle? Is mainstream America to blame for other culture groups mocking Mexican cuisine, by slapping the food on their menus, as if it was una Hot Pocket, ready in one minute? Or do they really look up to the mexicanos’ food?

Habla Chris

Dear Chris Speaks: Cálmese, mi cabrón. It’s perfectly fine for other groups to sell Mexican food, or combine their meals with ours to make something new—as I’ve written before, if it wasn’t for such mestizaje, we wouldn’t have al pastor (created by Lebanese), tequila (invented with European distillation methods), carne asada (Spaniards), arroz con leche (Moors), cerveza (Germans), pan dulce (French) and Tostilocos (pochos). It’s even perfectly fine for chinitos, gabachos and others to become rich off of Mexican food, as there are a lot of Mexicans who also get rich—like a pot of tamales, there’s plenty for todos.

Where the Mexican has a problem is with restaurants or companies insulting Mexican food—for example, saying tamales are thing of the past à la McDonald’s in promoting a McBurrito in interior Mexico (which is something like trying to sell Chef Boyardee in Milan), or being Chipotle and inviting writers to pen mini-essays to print on cups and bags … yet not inviting a single Mexican-American writer to participate. (If CEO Steve Ells had any huevos, he’d excerpt the works of Chicana chingona Michele Serros, who recently passed away.)

Besides, can you really blame some of these groups for wanting to draw in customers with Mexican food? Even Salvadorans aren’t so pendejos as to try to make a fortune solely on pupusas, as delicious as they are. So just be proud that—again—when America needs the job done right, they call on Mexicans.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican