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Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Top: authors Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn; bottom: Open faced shrimp enchiladas.
Top: authors Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn; bottom: Open faced shrimp enchiladas.

I know two nice guys from San Antonio and Nashville who recently wrote a cookbook on enchiladas. Cappy Lawton and his family have founded many restaurants in Texas, and presently own three in San Antonio; including La Fonda on Main which features many of the dishes from the cookbook. Chris Waters Dunn loves country music, but is presently more interested in honing his culinary skills.

It’s a pretty big book (237 pages hardback) to haul around a kitchen, mostly because it includes massive amounts of background on corn, chilis and all the ingredients you’d think would be part of Aztec to Tex Mex cooking. There are over 75 recipes ranging from making a tortilla to open faced shrimp extravaganzas.

The authors credit many friends and colleagues (of several ethnicities), but here’s the question: is it cultural appropriation for two white men to write a definitive book on a Mexican icon? Is appreciation for ethnic cuisine by non-ethnics appropriate to celebrate, or does it dilute authenticity? I’m just not clear on what is OK, and what is not, and would like your opinion.

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Suz Korbel

Suz Korbel

Graduating in '71 from Cornell gave me a few unencumbered years of protesting, followed by 4 happy hipster grad student/worker years at U of Michigan, completing a Ph.D. in public administration. Followed a comedian to San Francisco, then my heart to Austin Texas to learn the TV business, dabbled in hot&heavy politics in DC, and returned to Austin & San Antonio, Texas to hone my political/media skills. I make my money conducting consumer and political opinion studies.