Swiss Enchiladas

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Wed Nov 7 09:58:13 UTC 2001

I've been catching up with ancient history -- i.e., some messages of ten
days to two weeks ago on ADS-L.  The interchange attributed enchiladas
suizas to some kind of border phenomenon with possible California
overtones. That makes sense, given that the ingredients are exotic in
standard Mexican cuisine.

The trouble with making sense is that it can easily ignore history.

Enchiladas suizas gained fame as a signature dish of THE Sanborn's
Restaurant, the one in the Casa de Azulejos/House of Tiles in Mexico City's
historic central district. I don't know, but I suspect that the dish was
invented by a Sanborn's chef. I do know that for many years the
English-language menu at Sanborn's listed "Sanborn's famous enchiladas
suizas" (or words to that effect). They were still on the menu the last
time I ate at Sanborn's, some four years ago -- but I first ate Sanborn's
enchiladas suizas more than half a century ago, when I was 13.

My parents took me and my younger brother on a four-week tour of Mexico in
December 1944-January 1945.  We were told that "all the best people"  had
Sunday brunch at Sanborn's -- an exaggeration, but Sunday at Sanborn's was
a custom with roots antedating the Mexican Revolution.  We "discovered"
Sanborn's enchiladas suizas on our first Sunday in Mexico. . . and I still
think it's a treat worth ordering.

Back in  1945, saying "Sanborn's" in Mexico City meant the House Tiles.
(They did have a handful of branches that functioned as a string of rest
stops along the highway between Mexico City and the U.S. border.) Nowadays,
Sanborn's restaurants are all but ubiquitous in the Valley of Mexico -- and
every one of them features enchiladas suizas.  Try them if you get a

(I didn't know the real reason for that 1944-45 trip until many years
later, and I had no idea how we were able to swing reservations on Braniff
Airlines all the way from Chicago to Mexico City in those days of travel
austerity.  In the 1970s, my father told me that the family's function on
that trip was to provide cover. He was -- deep breath for recitation of a
long title -- Midwest Regional Director of the Office of the Rubber
Director of the War Production Board.  He said the trip really was part of
a sting operation aimed at breaking up major black market traffic in
camelback -- i.e., raw natural rubber used in retreading tires. Rubber was
a critical war material in WW II. Dad's whole life up to that point had
been connected to the rubber business, and he used his experience to pose
as a trade insider trying to buy illicit rubber in  bulk quantities.)

-- mike salovesh   <m-salovesh-9 at>   PEACE !!!

Kim & Rima McKinzey wrote:
> >...Agreed.  "Enchiladas suizas" (always rendered in that form) were a
> >standard casserole item at graduate student parties and potlucks in
> >LA in the late '60s, and I've never had them or even seen them
> >anywhere else.
> Just had some Sunday evening - at a neighborhood Mexican restaurant
> here in the SF Bay Area.
> >  The recipe was similar, but without the deep fat
> >frying and sometimes with chicken in the filling.  Notice that Mark
> >refers to Swiss cheese, but the recipe Barry reprints calls for
> >cheddar.  I recall Monterey Jack being used in this and similar
> >"Cal-Mex" recipes but the enchiladas were still called Swiss.
> The choice was chicken or cheese filling - and the cheese was either
> cheddar or jack I think.  It had green chili sauce and sour cream on
> top.  Don't know nothin' about the deep fat part, these certainly
> weren't fried.  They were just like regular enchiladas except for
> green chili instead of red and the sour cream.
> Rima


More information about the Ads-l mailing list