If you pay much attention to American politics these days, you might come away with an unsettling perception of U.S.-Mexico relations. Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have taken a harsh tone toward our neighbors to the south, especially with regard to Mexican immigrants. Cruz has proposed massive deportations. Trump wants to build a frickin’ wall to keep border-crossers out.
The immigration debate has huge implications for the U.S. restaurant industry, with its long history of employing expats from all over the globe and benefitting creatively from such diverse influences. Prominent U.S. chefs José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian have spoken out publicly against the divisive rhetoric, backing out of potentially lucrative restaurant deals with Trump, the New York real estate mogul and former reality TV star, over his inflammatory remarks. And rightly so.
Mexico is a beautiful country with a vibrant and regionally diverse food culture that greatly influences our own. Consider: Salsa now outsells ketchup in this country, and tortillas outsell white bread. Well-respected chefs in major U.S. cities are going to great lengths to import real Mexican corn to make their tortillas as authentically as possible, while bartenders nationwide are pouring more copious amounts of mezcal, the smoky Mexican spirit, than ever before.
And so, this week, as we raise our margarita glasses on Cinco de Mayo and beyond, let us relish in this continuing cross-pollination of cultures. Break out the avocados, crack open some cervezas and brush up on your knowledge of rice and beans.
Buckle up, Paco — it’s Holy Frijoles Week!