Globetrotting gourmet Anthony Bourdain has never shied from offering a blunt opinion, particularly when it comes to food.
Bourdain took part in a Reddit Ask Me Anything this week, touching on topics ranging from comfort food to uncomfortable moments abroad.
And when asked about what food trend he would like to see develop, he held forth on a ubiquitous but undervalued cuisine:
“I would like people really to pay more for top-quality Mexican food. I think it’s the most undervalued, underappreciated world cuisine with tremendous, tremendous potential. These are in many cases really complex, wonderful sauces; particularly from Oaxaca, for instance, that date back from before Europe.”
“I’m very excited about the possibilities for that cuisine, and I think we should pay more attention to it, learn more about it, and value it more. This is frankly a racist assumption that Mexican food or Indian food should be cheap. That’s not right.”
Mexican cuisine occupies a broad position in US retail and cultural spaces, as it is a foreign food but common among millions of Mexican-Americans and can be found everywhere from street stands to tony eateries.
The US is home to about 40,000 Mexican restaurants, according to The Washington Post, similar to the number of Chinese restaurants.
In a 2015 survey of 1,000 people by the National Restaurant Association, half of respondents said they eat Mexican food at least once a month, with 86% of frequent ethnic-cuisine eaters – people who eat four different ethnic foods in a month – saying they eat it at least one time a month.
Moreover, 83% of homes with children reported eating Mexican food once a month, with 63% saying they eat it frequently.
The NRA also found that among people in the American West – home to 52% of Americans with Mexican heritage – 62% of respondents reported eating Mexican food at least once a month, while 36% and 37% of those in the Northeast said they ate it regularly or occasionally, respectively.
The NRA survey revealed that more respondents under 44 years of age prepared Mexican food at home than those who ate it a restaurants – a sign that the cuisine has become more engrained in US eating habits.
In addition to Mexican food, Tequila, the agave-based spirit first produced in a southwest Mexican town of the same name, has seen considerable growth. The US represents about 52% of global sales for the liquor, and in 2014 the spirit’s revenues topped $2 billion – most of that growth coming from high-end and super-premium markets.