Eric Rubin's Journal: Virginia Continued
April 26, 2011Mexican food in Virginia, aka more on East vs WestAfter a few trips to the East Coast (to be fair, Virginia only during these last trips), hands-down, no doubt about it, no rebuttal, the West Coast is way ahead of the East Coast when it comes to Tequila knowledge and appreciation. Sure, it’s mainly our proximity to Mexico and the number of brands out West that are responsible for the difference. But I think another reason is geographical. Americans on the East Coast will most likely visit Cancun, Tulum, etc. Americans on the West Coast are way more likely to visit resorts on the Pacific. And where is Tequila produced? That’s right, mainly in Jalisco, on the West Coast. I realized this while talking to people in Virginia. Not one of them that had traveled to Mexico had been to the Pacific coast.Now on to food. I had absolutely wonderful Mexican food in Virginia. It was every bit the equal of what we have in California, and in many places was just as creative. What can we attribute this to? In the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area, where I was, almost all of the immigrants from Mexico are from Jalisco. They are inter-connected via marriage, family, towns, even neighborhoods, and this seems to foster a closer connection to their food. This connection, in turn, seems to have led to less dumbing-down (i.e. Tex-Mex’ing) of the food there. And I loved the tie-in to local flavors. A perfect example is from Chef Antonio at Taco Loco, where I had wonderful 24-hour cooked brisket tacos with local bacon and grilled avocado. And the fish tacos were reminiscent of a version I've tried in Mexico; impeccably fresh fish on corn tortillas with some fresh salsa & crema.