John T. Edge wrote about Tostilocos in Wednesday's New York Times and describes the Mexican street food as Tostitos corn chips topped with shaved jicama, pickled pig skins and stumpy tamarind candies in one instance. Sounds a little like the Frito Pie we wrote about a few weeks ago, right? Could our beloved dish have crossed the border and invaded Tijuana?
Edge says no. "Tostilocos are better understood as a product of Mexican cultural and culinary reclamation efforts," according to one of his subjects. Yet the dish bears the name of a trademarked product of the Frito Lays company, based in Dallas, and adheres to similar construction methods as Frito pie. Some Mexican vendors even serve it right in the bag.
Tostilocos are certainly more versatile. I've never seen lime juice and a sauce made with pickled fruits and chiles on a Frito pie, but the similarities are hard to deny. I think that the Tostilocos fans in Tijuana should at least give the great state of Texas a proper nod for the street food they've been enjoying for 10 years; Frito pie has spanned generations here.
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A cab driver interviewed for the story said he eats them in the street when he's been drinking cerveza or tequila, which sounds just like my 7-Eleven friend who said Frito pie is delicious after some beers. Matters of provenance aside, we can all agree on one thing: This stuff makes for really good drunk food.