Bad Carbs

Why do Mexicans forget about great beers like Tecate, Negra Modelo, and Bohemia and start drinking swill like Bud Light when they come to the United States? I always remember John Steinbeck's immortal line — "Ah, Bohemia beer and the Pyramid of the Sun; entire civilizations have created less" — yet if you visit any taquería in Houston on a Saturday afternoon, the Mexicans pound down American beer and nobody drinks Mexican cerveza except the gringos. This makes no sense.
Drinko por Cinco

Dear Gabacho:
That Mexicans drink gabacho beer makes perfect sense: This is America, and the first things Mexicans pick up on the inevitable road to assimilation are bad habits like crappy beer (Budweiser and Bud Light rank número one and two, respectively, in sales amongst Mexican lushes in this country), conspicuous consumption and flushing soiled toilet paper into the ocean. One possible explanation of the affinity for gabacho beer is the ubiquitous sponsorship of almost anything Mexican by American breweries — FIFA World Cup broadcasts on Univisión (brought to you by Miller Genuine Draft), the Mexican national soccer squad (Budweiser), the recent tour of norteño supergroup Grupo Intocable (Coors Light) and Cinco de Mayo (brought to you, according to Chicano activists, by a beer cabal intent on rendering Mexicans perpetually pedo —drunk off their asses). But be careful about romanticizing "Mexican" beer, Drinko: Not one of the beers you mention is even Mexican. Sure, they come from Mexico, but it was Austrian immigrants who crafted the fine lager Negra Modelo in 1926. Bohemia's pioneer brewer was, as the name suggests, Czech. Tecate's coat of arms looks suspiciously like a stylized version of Germany's heraldic eagle. And one of the founders of Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, the group that now brews Tecate and Bohemia, was a St. Louis immigrant named Joseph M. Schnaider. It's telling that the only major Mexican cervezería with no historic ties to Germans, Austrians or Czechs is Grupo Modelo, which owns the Negra Modelo label but got into business with Corona and Modelo — and is now half-owned by Anheuser-Busch.

Whenever we go out to eat, my friend always reminds me when I order flour tortillas that no Mexican ever eats them. He does this within earshot of the hot waitress, presumably to embarrass me into jumping onto the corn bandwagon. Is this true?
Taco del Congelador

Dear Taco From the Freezer:
Unless you're eating burritos wrapped in Wonder bread, you've got nothing to be ashamed of. But I'll give your friend credit for noting the fight to the death between tortillas de maíz and harina. The Spaniards who conquered northern Mexico and the southwestern United States first created flour tortillas because they were too stupid to learn corn-growing techniques from the vanquished natives and thus substituted wheat for maize. Flour tortillas subsequently became the flavor of choice in the borderlands, and gabachos quickly embraced the more familiar taste of flour over the corn tortilla's earthy Mesoamerican charm. According to ACNielsen Strategic Planner, sales of flour tortillas in the United States for the period between April 2004 and 2005 were $653.2 million, while corn tortillas only notched $338.7 million. The pernicious spread of flour continues: In 1998's Dietary Patterns and Acculturation Among Latinos of Mexican Descent, researchers Eunice Romery-Gwynn and Douglass Gwynn discovered that amongst the Mexicans they surveyed, "While only 14 percent of the immigrants reported consumption of flour tortillas while in Mexico, 35 percent consumed these tortillas after immigration." Again, America: Mexicans pick up gabacho ways fast, so don't gasp when they start speaking English and discriminate against .

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at garellano@ocweekly.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you!

 
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