Phonebook Fajitas (Rio Grande Valley, 1976)

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sun Jan 21 13:34:54 UTC 2001

>"ginguification" or "gringofication" or "gringoification"? What's up Don?


>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.

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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