How did tamarind become so popular?

Dear Mexican: What do we need to do to make the güeros understand that we come in peace? As Mexicans, we are from this great American continent as well, but in the average closed-minded English-speaking folks' definition of "American," it's amusing to see they don't understand what it really means. Unless you are from one of the few nature-communing groups of people now dubbed Native Americans, then you cannot say you are American. You, your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents (you get the point) came from the Old World and hence have been in this land "illegally" for much much longer than us bean-lovers. So I repeat my question: How can we make these green-gos understand we come in peace? And that we are here to stay! Help me make these McDonalders understand already, so we can all learn from each other and live in peace!

El Frijolero

Dear Beaner: Gracias for showing America that Mexis can be as meandering as gabachos. As to your question: Shit, we've tried everything to pander to gabachos over the years. We gave them half of Mexico, we called ourselves "Spanish," we considered ourselves white, we made amazing dishes that other gabachos turned into multi-million-dollar empires—and still they hate us. What to do? Not a single pinche thing: Mexicans in this country are no longer at a place where we have to grovel to anyone. If gabachos don't want to accept that aquí estamos and we ain't going away, then they deserve the beautiful brown grandkids that are coming their way.

Dear Mexican: I noticed that my favorite candies are primarily made out of chile and tamarindo. I understand that chile is indigenous to the Americas, but tamarindo is not. I found that tamarindo originates from the Middle East and Africa. And through the slave trade and the dreadful European expansion, tamarindo found its delicious way to the Americas. What I don't get is how and why tamarindo became so popular among nuestra gente? We consume mega-tons of it! We drink it, we make candy out it, I sometimes have dreams about it. ¿Que onda?


Gustavo Arellano

Pocho de Ocho

Dear Pocho: Actually, tamarind came to Mexico through the Manila galleons and has no Middle Eastern connection whatsoever: The Levantines' contribution to Mexico's fruit culture is granada (pomegranates) via the Spaniards via the Moors. But it was only by a brain pedo of God that tamarind isn't native to Mexico, as no other cultures save certain Hindoos love it the way we do. It's not much of a mystery: Mexicans love sweets with tropical verve and fleshiness, whether it's mamey, mangoes, papayas, guanábana, tunas (the prickly pear) or boring-ass pineapple. But tamarind is the king of the jungle, because — as you pointed out — we can turn it into so many things: ice cream, fruit leather, salads, salsas, paletas and so much more. And when we pair it with chile (which we always do), it's the greatest product of foreign-yet-similar cultures since the leprecano.


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