Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Border Foods

The focus of this radio story is a rather unusual hot dog that has apparently taken the Sonoran Desert region by storm during the 15 years since I moved away. Although the particular food is unfamiliar, the broader theme of this essay is quite familiar to me: the blending of cultures in the swath of land along the border between the United States and Mexico. No other border in the world comes close to the economic divide represented here, but the cultural and ecological ties go back several centuries. The lands, languages, peoples, and foods within 100-150 miles of the border often have more in common across that line than they do with the interior of either country. That is, in many ways Tucson is more like Hermosillo than either is like Washington or Mexico City. Having lived and taught in the borderlands for seven years, I am saddened that it has become so subject to the whims of far-away politicians. I am grateful to NPR for the stories it occasionally airs about this vibrant and misunderstood region.

As some of the online comments point out, the story neglects to mention the fourth border state on the U.S. side: New Mexico. It also refers to neighboring states in Mexico without listing them: Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas.

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