Before Chipotle, there was Chi Chi’s Mexican food
Perhaps she got creative in the kitchen with a retro sort-of Mexican food recipe — carefully clipped from that month’s issue of Good Housekeeping. (We have a bunch of these gems below!)
Maybe you also got to have burritos courtesy of the freezer case, but my mom didn’t buy those. And salsa? Well, it wasn’t fresh — just jarred.
Worse still, my only acquaintance with guacamole growing up was the nasty canned stuff (!) you could buy in the chips aisle.
I never even experienced a fresh avocado and real guacamole until I was a legal adult — a fact which is astounding to me, looking back. It’s a staple ingredient these days!
“A celebration of food!”
Boy, has our experience with this culinary genre changed significantly since the 70s, especially for those of us Midwesterners who moved to the desert southwest at some point in our lives.
Before there was Chipotle and Chevy’s, Baja Fresh and Qdoba, I’m pretty sure it was Chi-Chi’s that changed the Mexican food game for me in the 80s. Remember Chi-Chi’s Mexican-ish food??
Watching that old commercial, is it any surprise to hear this company was started by non-Mexicans in… Minnesota?
Nevertheless, we have Chi Chi’s to thank for at least trying to expand our culinary horizons.
Sure, it was a large chain with a negligibly Mexican food menu, but at the time, it was a gigantic leap forward towards authenticity — as well as our first experience with taking nearly our entire dinner home in a box because we ate too many chips and salsa. Oops.
And at least the guacamole was made fresh. /BB
This magazine feature wanted to keep co-eds from embarrassing themselves when ordering off the Chi Chi’s menu…
Make it Mexican: How to say it (1982)
Arroz (ah-RROS): Rice
Burrito (boo-RREE-toh): Wheat-flour tortilla wrapped around a filling
Chile (CHEE-leh): Chili, hot pepper
Chimichanga (chee-mee-CHAN-ga): Deep-fried burrito
Enchilada (ehn-chee-LAH-thah): Tortilla dipped in chili sauce and filled with cheese or meat
Salsa (SAHL-sah): Sauce served with Mexican dishes
Sopaipillas (soh-pa-PEE-yas): Deep-fried pastry puffs
Tortilla (tohr-TEE-yah): Thin, unleavened pancake of ground, dried cornmeal
Try some of these recipes to experience what Mexican food in the US tasted like before we knew how Mexican really tasted
Enchiladas Acapulco made with Mexican Velveeta cheese (1986)
Velveeta Mexican Process Cheese Spread uses jalapeno peppers and a special blending of natural cheeses for a taste that makes it easy to turn your meal into a real fiesta.
There’s no single cheese like Mexican Velveeta.
Toss a Fiesta! Kraft Taco salad dressings (1984)
Imagine chunky tomato, tangy onion, mild green chile pepper and just a touch of spice…all blended with fresh sour cream for a mild but distinctive south-of-the-border taste.
That’s new Taco Dressing from KRAFT. Or, for an even lighter Mexican touch, try our new KRAFT Taco Reduced Calorie Dressing! So, why not add a little spice to your salad … tonight!
Siesta summer salad: Retro taco-style recipe (1985)
Rosarita guacamole recipe (c1980s)
Rosarita y Avocado. Ole! Tonight, slip quietly across the border without ever leaving home. With tacos, Rosarita Refried Beans and California Avocados.
Start things going with cool, creamy California Avocado guacamole dip and tortilla chips. For easy tacos, use Rosarita Taco Shells. They’re pre-shaped to hold your favorite meat filling. Add shredded cheese and lettuce, and drizzle with Rosarita Taco Sauce. Then top your taco off with some lively guacamole, and serve with heated Rosarita Refried Beans under crescents of tender, nutlike California Avocado.
There’s no need to learn Spanish. Everybody knows what “Mmm…” means.
Retro American Mexican food – Lawry’s Fiesta Oliva recipe (1983)
Taste the flavors of a Mexican fiesta with quality products from Lawry’s and ripe olives from California.
Retro Bisquick Prizewinning Burrito Bake recipe (1986)
Beefy Mexican lasagna recipe (1986)
A Mexican Fiesta! (1976)
A Mexican dinner might begin with icy margaritas, accompanied by deep-fried chiles rellenos and a hot dip.
Next, a cold, creamy avocado soup with tortillas and tomato-and-pepper relish on the side. After that, beef enchiladas — tortillas rolled around a meat filling, blanketed with tomato sauce and baked.
A selection of several main courses is not unusual at gourmet-club feasts. Above, escabeche de pescado — cold pickled fish — garnished with orange peel and pepper strips.
Below left, a Mexican classic: turkey mole (the rich sauce is made with unsweetened chocolate and flavored with cinnamon and cumin); with it, green rice. For dessert, almond torte, coconut “apples” and fruit.