Tex Mex: A cuisine that screams out for Moscato d’Asti

mexico

Over the weekend, I took my two daughters Lila Jane and Georgia — ages 5 and 7 —and my wife Tracie to eat at one of our favorite Tex Mex restaurants in Houston where we live.

Many Italian readers may not be familiar with Tex Mex cuisine. And as surprising as it may sound, most American food lovers are unfamiliar with what constitutes genuine Tex Mex cooking at least those who live beyond the Texas border.

I can’t tell you the name of the restaurant (because part of the editorial policy here at the Moscato d’Asti stories blog is that we never talk about a particular Moscato d’Asti producer or a particular restaurant or venue where the wines are served). But what I can tell you is that I ordered and robustly enjoyed the following: Two flautas (rolled corn tortillas stuffed with slow-cooked shredded chicken and then fried to perfection); one crispy taco (a folded, fried tortilla also stuffed with slow-cooked ground beef and topped with finely chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, and guacamole); and two cheese enchiladas (rolled and baked corn tortillas, stuffed with American-style mozzarella cheese and topped with shredded cheddar cheese and ranchero sauce, slow cooked chilis and tomato). And of course, what Tex Mex meal would be complete without tostadas (tortillas fried until crispy and crunch) and topped with the classic standby of Tex Mex cuisine chile con queso (finely chopped hot chiles drowning in melted Velveeta cheese)?

And it goes without saying: All of the above were accompanied by generous servings of “re-“fried beans (twice-cooked pinto beans, frijoles refritos), Spanish rice (white rice cooked with tomato, garlic, and spices), and a hefty bowl of tortilla chips accompanied by spicy spinach dip (finely chopped wilted spinach that’s been folded into a mixture of mayonnaise and sour cream that have been souped up with dehydrated leek soup mix).

I wanted to offer the detailed description of our meal to help readers put the following into context.

Was my pairing for this sumptuously rich meal one of the canonical beverages to match with Tex Mex? In other words, did I reach for beer, sweetened ice tea, or a margarita? No, I asked for a glass of Moscato d’Asti.

And here’s the thing, as our older daughter Georgia likes to say: Our server didn’t miss a beat or do a double take because Moscato d’Asti is one of the most popular pairings for Tex Mex in the state of Texas. No joke, people.

The New York Times may file that in the esoteric/bizarre/whimsical bin. But I’m here to tell you, folks: People in Texas love drinking Moscato d’Asti (DOCG I might add) with their classic Tex Mex meal.

I’m hoping this gives yall (note the Texas twang) food for thought: In my next post I’ll talk about how that came to by and why it’s so important as far as our mission her at the Moscato d’Asti blog is concerned.

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Jeremy Parzen
After obtaining his Ph.D. in Italian literature at U.C.L.A. in 1997, Jeremy Parzen moved to New York City where he shifted his focus to food and wine. By 1998, he was the chief wine writer for the English-language edition of La Cucina Italiana. In 2005, he published his annotated translation of Maestro Martino's 15th century cookery book, The Art of Cooking (University of California Press). In 2007, he launched his blog DoBianchi.com (named after the Venetian expression for two glasses of white wine). Since that time, he has published countless articles on Italian food and wine, including bylines for publications like Decanter and Wine and Spirits, which named him a "Master of Place" in 2017. Known for his humanist perspective onto the world of Italian enogastronomy, he works as wine and restaurant industry consultant from his home office in Houston, where he and his wife Tracie (a native Texan) are raising their two daughters. A former rock musician and songwriter, Jeremy continues to compose and record music with and for his family. He was honored to be named an Italian Association of Wine Merchants ambassador in 2018 for his "profound scholarship in the humanities, his great knowledge of winemaking, and his excellence in communications."

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