Ask a Mexican! Thin Beef, Thinner Philosophy

Praising bistec and dancing on Sam Huntington's grave

Dear Mexican: Mi hermano y yo tenemos un dispute. We all know that Mexicans love their bistec sliced muy thin, but why? My brother is adamant that the diet of free-range vacas mexicanas results in tough meat, necessitating a thin slice for easy mastication. I think the reason is purely an economic one, since Mexicans are famously poor. Are mis amigos south of the border just trying to pinch a peso? We both know that usted es the sole hombre qualified to answer this question. So, what's the scoop? —Two Meatheads

Dear Gabachos: The Mexican's theory is that you won't find many thick cuts of meat in Mexi kitchens because carne delgadita is easier to cook, simpler to stuff into tortillas, and ultimately more delicious. However, your wabby servant is a mere novice in Mexican food knowledge compared to James Beard Award–winning Robb Walsh, one of the most Mexican gabachos after George Lopez and author of the recently released Sex, Death and Oysters: A Half-Shell Lover's World Tour. His thoughts? "Thick steaks became popular in the 1960s, when the U.S. switched over to a national beef production system," Walsh told the Mexican. "Calves were born in Florida, raised on ranches in the West, injected with chemicals and fattened on feed lots in the Midwest, butchered at large central slaughterhouses, and aged by meat packers in Chicago. Premium thick-cut 'corn-fed' beef steaks became available under this system." Before that, American cows were much like their brown cousins—grazing on open ranges, always near local butchers, and so never bulked up to the freakishly large sizes reached by modern-day gabacho cows (can bovines belong to a race? In this column, they do!)—and American beef was thin as a result. The introduction of NAFTA, however, has flooded Mexico with inferior American beef, and restaurants south of the frontera now offer thick cuts. "Famously poor" . . . for crying out loud. Such racism! Save that thought when you ask me about Mexicans living 18 to an apartment, m'kay?

The recent death of Samuel P. Huntington begs the question: What sort of dance should one do on his grave? A snappy son jarocho zapateado would rattle his bigoted bones pretty good, but you'd probably opt to see couples twirling over his plot to the brassy strains of some banda sinaloense. I know how much you love that "Oompa Loompa" crap. —El Jefe

Mark Dancy

Dear Boss: Have some respect: Mexican brass music is NOT "Oompa Loompa" doodlings. Anyway, the holidays did bring some cheer to the world: the death of the Harvard historian Huntington, the most overrated public intellectual since Mark Steyn. Huntington—who famously predicted the rise of worldwide cultural conflicts in the 1993 essay, "The Clash Within Civilizations"—spent his last years arguing that Mexicans were almost as grave a threat to the American nation as al-Qaeda because we come from a culture altogether incompatible with American ideals, a hilarious thought when one considers how easily Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo throws interceptions. Mark my words: Huntington's theories will one day be held in the same respect as phrenology and Bernie Madoff. I thereby curse Huntington with the worst possible hex for Know Nothings: brown descendants. And guess what? If Huntington is proven correct, my curse will become reality. Either way, Mexicans win—¡Arriba, arriba!

 
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