Eating along the Texas/Mexico border on ‘La Frontera With Pati Jinich’

'La Frontera With Pati Jinich' - A foodie tour of the Texas/Mexico border

Pati Jinich

The sights, sounds, tastes and cultures along the Texas/Mexico border are on display in all their glory in a two-part documentary upcoming on PBS.

In “La Frontera With Pati Jinich,” airing consecutive Fridays beginning Oct. 15 (check local listings), the Mexican-American chef, food writer, educator and cookbook author travels along the international border from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico to see how the worlds and cultures of towns and cities on both sides meld despite being divided by a political boundary. Along the way, she meets with musicians, artists, athletes, local legends and chefs whose work represents the blending of Mexican, American and other cultures.

Jinich, a Mexico City native who now lives in the U.S., spent two weeks filming along La Frontera and was blown away by how separate and distinct these communities were from even their own countries.

“It’s these communities that feel like they don’t belong to the U.S. and they don’t belong to Mexico but at the same time they belong to something greater because they are contributing to both and even more at the same time,” she explains. “But for some reason, for Mexico the people from La Frontera are the people that left or the people that are away, and for America it’s the people that are in La Frontera.

“So it is this universe that at the same time it feels like it is isolated, separated, but at the same time it’s a universe that is doubly blessed because it lives with a continuous access to both cultures, both worlds, both sets of rules. So it’s truly fascinating.”

And that access to two cultures, Jinish explains, is evident in TexMex food, which is a blend of cuisines from both sides of the border.

“When I first moved to the U.S., I used to think, what is TexMex?” she says. “Is it trying to be Mexican, but it’s something different? I realized that Mexican food really has no borders. Mexican food in the U.S. is incredibly delicious, authentic and its own beast. It is regional Mexican food that has adapted to another country, another region, other tastes. You see Mexican communities all over the U.S. that are adapting in the toolkit that they bring from home and enriching it with what they find in America.”

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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