Phonebook Fajitas (Rio Grande Valley, 1976)

Donald M. Lance LanceDM at MISSOURI.EDU
Sun Jan 21 06:20:03 UTC 2001

Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

> "The Round-up Restaurant, now closed, in tiny Pharr, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley is generally credited with having been the first establishment, in 1969, to put fajitas on its menu when it was just a drive-in eatery."

I grew up in the Valley, and I very much doubt that The Round-Up Restaurant was the first.  What gringos world-wide know as fajitas are various kinds of meats seasoned with spices that generations of mamacitas and 'buelitas
have put on flank steaks (fajas) in feeding their families -- the tough meat in the muscles under the bellies of bovine critters.  Butchers would give away the fajas covered with fat or sell them for a pittance, so this was
a good way for the poor to get a solid source of protein.  In the 1950s one could get botana platters of fajitas in lots of eateries along the Texas border.  After gringuification of this food item, butchers could sell flank
steaks for more $$$ and this traditional item was soon no longer a staple for less affluent families.  "Chicken fajitas," in a "technical" sense, is a misnomer, because the fajas in a chicken's belly are so thin that they
wouldn't make much of a meal.

Anyway, Pharr was hardly "tiny" in 1969 -- rather, had a population more like 12 -15,000.  The 1994 estimated population was 36,576.  The 1990 population of Hidalgo County, where Pharr is located, was 383,545 in 1990 and is
now over 500,000.

Whoever credited The Round-Up with this "innovation" was certainly not the kind of researcher that we have in our own Barry Popik.


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