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Ask a Mexican

08 Jul 2015
Dear Mexican: I live in New York, where taco trucks are a fairly recent addition to the urban landscape. I’ve noticed they always serve their tacos with double tortillas. Why? I’m a long-time lover of Mexican food (the REAL stuff), and own several Mexican cookbooks, but the recipes never call for this. Also, what is the “right” way to eat a double-tortilla taco? I generally split the filling between the two tortillas, since there is so much of it, but I have no idea whether I’m making a fool out of myself. Gourmet Gringa Dear Gabacha: “Actually, double tortillas are common in Mexico!” says Lesley Téllez, author of the awesome nuevo book Eat Mexico: Recipes From Mexico City’s Streets, Markets and Fondas, and a Puebla York resident herself. “Lots of Mexico City street vendors serve their tacos on two tortillas, or they’ll ask if clients want one or two, in…
01 Jul 2015
Dear Mexican: I read your column of a couple of years ago about Chicanos loving the Aztecs, and it left me both cracking up and intellectually fortified. In the last portion of the column, you added: “But, hey: If you want to change your name from José González to Nezahualcoyotl Moctezuma and go to sweat lodges on weekends, even though you’re lighter-skinned than a Southern belle, be my guest! I’m sure your ancestors who fought the Aztecs—both indigenous and Hispanic—would’ve approved!” I really would like to know your opinion about Chican@s appropriating indigenous names. (Well, for me, it’s appropriating.) Every time I go to Facebook and see my friends change their names to things in the Nahuatl language, I cringe. Maybe it’s my own internal struggle, but I see changing your name as a very insignificant. I mean, que ganas con cambiando tu nombre, if you don’t know the language?…
24 Jun 2015
Dear Mexican: Where is my America? I’m half-Hispanic and half-Italian. I was born on Coney Island to a drug-addicted father and was raised by my mom, who had to work. We were very poor. I’ve always had to struggle for basic possessions. Spanish was not spoken in my house, so my Spanish is muy malo. I’ve worked since I was 15, barking on the games in Coney Island. I went to culinary school and became a chef. I’ve worked in the industry for 10 years. It is inundated with illegal Mexican workers. Most of these guys are OK, and they are willing to work longer hours, for less pay. Gone is the eight-hour work day. Nobody gets health coverage. It’s rare to get a paid vacation. It’s rare not to work six days a week. I feel the influx of illegal workers has lowered labor standards for all workers in…
17 Jun 2015
Dear Mexican: I’m not sure if this is solely an Orange County thing, but: As a high school student in SanTana, I can’t help but realize that the great majority of rockabilly kids are Mexican. Why is this? Weren’t the ’40s and ’50s kind of a bad time for Mexicans? Chicana con Ganas Dear Motivated Chicana: Yes y no. While Mexican-American activists were fighting for civil rights through lawsuits and voter-registration drives, the young people were getting into cars, rock ’n’ roll and R&B, and changing their given names from Consuelo and Jorge to Connie and George—the better to assimilate. The ’40s generations were pachucos, but more than a few Mexis became so-called rebels during the ’50s and continuing into the present day. For years, one of my favorite cinematic nuggets was discovering that there was a Mexican in the Pharaohs car club that kidnapped Richard Dreyfuss’ character in American…
10 Jun 2015
Dear Mexican: Why are lowrider artists obsessed with surly clowns? I went to an exhibition of the art of Mister Cartoon in Venice Beach years ago, and the clowns in his art were downright disturbing. I've seen these nasty clowns on T-shirts and a bunch of other places, too. What's up with that? Did the whole culture have a nasty experience at the circus? Cirque Du So Low Dear Gabacho: I’m answering this pregunta not just because it’s a good one, but to teach the value of patience. Gentle readers: This question was sent on the first week of ¡Ask a Mexican!’s existence, which is now more than 10 years ago. I’m finalmente getting to it because it’s about pinche time, you know? So you, too, will get your question you sent hace seven years answered … eventually. For this one, Cirque Du So Low, it’s muy simple: Mexicans like…
03 Jun 2015
Dear Mexican: Do your countrymen still worship Santana? Or is Santana looked at like The Who in England, and Crosby, Stills and Nash in America—old relics from the good ol’ Woodstock days? Abraxas to the Maxas! Dear Gabacho: Mexicans actually never worshipped Carlos Santana, who was born in Jalisco and grew up in Tijuana before moving to San Francisco and becoming the Quetzalcoatl of rock. Oh, we’ve always respected him—after all, Santana is a mexicano who hit it big by fusing Latin rhythms with acid rock—but he long ago left the earthly realm of nationalism to hang out with his guardian angel, Metatron, making him the true manifestation of la raza cósmica. Mexicans respect all of that, but they like their male Mexican musicians the way hombres like their sex: loud, sweaty and done in under four minutes—OK, three. My husband, who is very proud of his Mexican heritage, was…
27 May 2015
Dear Mexican: From what I’ve seen and heard, Mexicans are very family-oriented. They take the names of both their mothers and fathers, live with extended family, take carpooling to the nth degree and tattoo the names of their children across their bodies. We recently had a party and invited one of our Hispanic friends. She showed up with her grandmother, mother, sister and her two kids! What the hell was that all about? What I don’t understand is this: Whenever I see Mexican men and women walking along busy streets, or through stores, or standing at the bus stops, their little kids are usually more than an arm’s length away, sometimes trailing as much as several feet behind them. It’s also not uncommon to see little kids crawling around in front seats, back seats and beds of trucks, totally unrestrained! I’m quite sure these are the same people who put…
20 May 2015
Dear Mexican: Why do white people love Marco Rubio and cry at his speeches? Rubio was in my town selling his vision for America mierda to his gabacho constituency, and they drank it up like Tía’s fresh jamaica. They laughed; they cried; they wondered why we Mexicans can’t get behind the Great Brown Hope. Do we know if Rubio even talks to the kitchen help and wait staff when he’s finished talking at banquets? “Oh, my God! He’s so inspiring!” FUCK THAT. Mark Blondie Dear Pocho: The great thing about your pregunta was that you attached a tweet from some PR hack essentially ejaculating while commenting that Rubio was “speaking to Spanish-speaking employees post-fundraiser.” Hell, Democratic politicians in the Southwest have given shout-outs to the help during their speeches for years now, but you don’t see Dems freaking out about it, mostly because they realized Mexicans were humans long ago.…
13 May 2015
Dear Mexican: My beloved niece married a boy of Mexican extraction. I am very fond of him, but he and his family kind of hold us all at arm’s length. It’s very difficult to get close. My niece has told me that his mother “doesn’t like white people.” Wouldn’t it be better to get to know me before deciding you don’t like me? Isn’t her attitude racist? I’ll never forget walking into their wedding with big smiles, because my niece was getting married, and she is a major sweetheart. We were greeted with stony faces and no responses to our greetings; I felt like a character from West Side Story. Looking back, maybe I should have clicked my fingers and sang “When You’re a Jet.” Is there something I can do, or should I just continue to be courteous when we meet, and try to find something to talk to…
06 May 2015
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Dear Mexican: I work with mostly young, progressive, educated white folks at an institution of higher education in Southern California. The other day, I mentioned buying a shirt that reads, “Illegal immigration started in 1492.” We had a good laugh, and my co-worker, whom I like a lot, said that it actually began in the Ice Age, suggesting that no one kind of human has a claim over “land” or geography. While I get her argument, I was stunned. A flippant response like that diminishes the struggles of people trying to make a life here, under adverse conditions and having fled other adverse conditions, as well as the systematic historical exceptionalism mythology, jingoism, xenophobia and racism that has created the current state of affairs. Can you give me a good comeback for when an otherwise cool gabacho says similar bullshit? A Chicana in the Hallowed Halls of Learning Dear Pocha:…