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Impossible Questions: “La Cocina” Edition – The Answer

March 13, 2014

Did you figure it out the answer to this week’s “Impossible Question”? Read on to see if you were right.

What’s the most popular Mexican food item in the United States?

Okay, so we might be fudging the details here to try and trick you, but the most popular Mexican food item isn’t the obvious guess (of course not) like the taco or the burrito.

  • While the taco is a traditional Mexican food—essentially a sandwich, an authentic Mexican taco consists of a tortilla with fillings—the crispy taco shell is an American innovation. A mid-20th century staple of Tex-Mex restaurants in the Southwest, it reached national popularity when Glen Bell mass-marketed crispy-shelled tacos when he opened Taco Bell in 1962.
  • It’s not the burrito either, at least not the way Americans are familiar with them—a gigantic tortilla filled to the breaking point with meats, cheese, beans, sour cream and salsa. Traditional Mexican burritos are small and thin and contain just one or two ingredients. Those huge, modern-day burritos were developed in taquerias in San Francisco’s Mission District in the 1960s.

Nope. The most popular Mexican food in the U.S. is…the Caesar salad.

Restaurateur Caesar Cardini emigrated from Italy to San Diego in the early 20th century, but opened a restaurant in Tijuana when Prohibition took effect, so he could serve alcohol. In 1924, his kitchen’s stocks had been depleted by American tourists celebrating the Fourth of July, and he made do with what he had, combining romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, and a dressing made from eggs, olive oil, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. The dish was a hit, and by the 1940s was a staple at restaurants in Southern California. Today, the Caesar salad is the bestselling and most-consumed variety of salad in the United States.

Want more impossible questions? Check out Uncle John’s Impossible Questions.

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