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Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Truth About Fajitas

There is a dirty secret about Mexican food in the restaurant industry and I want to share it with you right now. It isn't that the guacamole is very often frozen in big gigantic bags that get thawed out in a sink of hot water (I'm looking at you, Houlihan's.) It isn't that the "authentic Crema agria" that is topped on the enchiladas is the same old tired ass Sysco sour cream that goes on the baked potato. And it isn't that the Mexican workers in the kitchen are all undocumented. It's about fajitas.

You know that big cast iron skillet that comes to the table overflowing with carne and pollo and vegetables and it's always screaming with sizzle and steaming with style? It's fake. Those fajitas are not cooked on that skillet. Those skillets are stored under the burner so they get good and hot. The meat and the veggies are all cooked whenever and then just sit under the heat lamp until the rest of the order is ready to go. When it is time, they put the fajitas on the hot skillet which is then placed on some old funky woven straw basket bullshit or a piece of wood. And then right before they go out, someone picks up a squeeze bottle of oil or water and they jizz all over the skillet. Abracadabra: steam. And then when it gets to the table, it looks like the meat was actually cooked on this authentic Mexican fajita skillet. Customers are always so impressed.

customer: Oh my God, would ya look at that plate of fa-jee-tas? It looks so durn good.
waiter: Yeah, be careful, it's hot.
customer: Ethyl, listen to that sizzle. You can tell by the sizzle that these are gonna be good.
waiter: Yeah, be careful, it's hot.
customer: I betcha they have a little old Mexican lady back there makin' these just like she did in her village in old Mexico. My Lordy, I cain't wait to eat these. My glasses are all steamed up! Ethyl, did ya' see that? My glasses got all steamed up from my authentic Mexican fa-jee-tas? That is amazin'. (He reaches towards the skillet) OUCH! Oh, Lordy, I burnt my hand on this authentic fa-jee-ta skillet. Gosh durnit that stings.
waiter: Yeah, be careful, it's hot.
customer: Can I get some extra tor-till-as?
waiter: Yes sir, I will ask Rosarita to please make you a few more as soon as she gets back from walking the burro.
customer: Grass-i-ass. I love fa-jee-tas.


And now you know the truth.


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28 comments:

Bagel Fairy said...

Not at all surprised to hear/read this. I was always embarrassed by my "ooh, ahh" fajita-orderin' fellow diners.

You're probably correct in saying that the most "authentic" part of the Mexican food experience is the ethnicity of the workers making the food.

emilie charron said...

I can't believe it! And all along I thought that fajitas were the only authentic dishes on menus. I guess I have an other meal to scratch off my favorites list. What a shame.

Edward said...

Why should I pay to have hot oil splatter all over my face and clothes anyway? Just use a normal dish... kthxbye

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Wouldn't u think people would know about that skillet? Its a bit unbelievable that fajitas would be that sizzling... when was the last time u cooked fajitas at home and had your skillet that hot??? not that believable at all. Feel sorry for the sad folks that fall for that show.. Also the small bbq's at the Asian restaurants. Let me tell u Asians do not eat that way at home.. My mother would pitch a fit if my Dad wanted to have a hibachi at the table.. That's another b.s. move or foolery for America.. a good ploy to get people into the restaurant.. Last laugh is on the one thinking Asians eat that way..

Simple Dude said...

Oh no! My fajita dream is crashing down around me! Guess I am going to have to switch to the Chimichanga special next time.

SD
http://simpledudecomplexworld.blogspot.com/

The Ranter's Box said...

I always had a sneaking suspicion there was something off with the whole fajita fancy smancy presentation bullshit. Now I can happily laugh at the next person I see ordering them.

http://rantersbox.blogspot.com

Just Plain Tired said...

I dunno, I guess if they taste decent the sizzling pan doesn't do much for me. But I didn't know this little secret until this post. :)

"Professor" M. said...

Well, the fact that they are jizzing all over my food with anything leaves a bad taste in my mouth! Another informative post, Bitchy Waiter!

Mary A. said...

Oh Thank God. I thought you were going to tell is it was dog meat.

Calandreya said...

I used to love eating out...

Paula said...

hahhahahhahhaha...CHAIN RESTAURANT CRAP FOOD

Xylina Myia said...

Haha, that's pretty funny. I mean you get what you pay for. If you go to a chain you just have to come to grips that most of the entrees are not made on the spot. They are nuked, luked and microwaved. I mean would really expect them to make each and every meal fresh? Do you know how long that would take? Impatient Americans do not have time to wait on unnecessary things like food. That's why they go out to eat, so they don't have to waste too much time on it. It makes me laugh every time people are shocked that their food isn't at all that authentic or fresh..

Practical Parsimony said...

Keep the food disclosures coming, please. Thank you.

tenax_technologies said...

I guess I have an other meal to scratch off my favorites list.

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SkippyMom said...

This was the greatest fail to working in a Mexican restaurant [not chain] back in the early nineties. No matter how many times I told a customer NOT to touch the SIZZLING pan that I had just served them WEARING A FREAKING OVEN MITT they always did. The only thing worse is when I would place it as far away from any children at the table [because you just KNOW they are going to touch it] saying "Let's leave this right here out of reach of the kiddies, okay? That way they won't get burned." No sooner had I turned around and the parents had used napkins to pick the stupid thing up and move it right in front of the kids. Who touched it.

Never once did I hear a complaint from a customer about them/their spawn being burnt. I just gave them my best "Told you so" smirk and walked off. Grrrr.

I am surprised that more people don't realize that they aren't actually cooked on the skillets - that it is just a presentation tool.

Shannyn said...

My restaurant does the same thing with Tajines (Moroccan clay pots). Its a slow cooking method that we completely neglect to use, instead we assemble the meal in the tajine, throw it in the oven for a few to get it all good and hot and present it at the table with a flourish.

SharleneT said...

There isn't a trade in the world that doesn't have its own way of presenting to the public to inspire buying... we're all basically crows looking for the next sparkly thing... the item, itself, may be bad for you or poorly made, but as long as it sparkles or looks great, it's going to get bought before the solid well-made product... It's the nature of the beast...

Laura Leane said...

More secrets!!!

Jesse said...

That was quite the laugh...It's been a while, but you never forget the sight undocumented cooks dumping overcooked meat bits and veggies that were just microwaved in a plastic bag onto the stupid sizzle tray..."Mexican food" my backside.

StickyRice said...

Oh I so wish I hadn't read that....fajitas will never taste good again now I know that they're just a stir-fry...

Elise-Lucie said...

I guess I've always been naive about that...My life is falling apart now :(

Tonya said...

People really think that their fajitas are cooked on that little skillet? I've been in the restaurant industry so long that I thought everyone knew they were cooked on the grill and then put on the tiny skillet with lime juice. They don't know that???

John said...

Yeah so what??? If it tastes good I don't care. Same goes for Asian and Indian food. I don't care if it's authentic to that nation as long as it tastes good.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is forgetting one thing. Yeah the presentation is beautiful and hell, I'm ALL about good presentation even for home cooked meals.

The other useful function is it keeps the meat/veg WARM on the table while you dig in.

Not long of course, loses it's heat in a short time, yet it works for the first couple wraps!

Not a biggie....

Anonymous said...

Agree with anonymous-presentation.
We all appreciate presentation whether we are aware or not given the previous entries

Anonymous said...

Lol I'm Mexican and I like fajitas. I don't think anyone cares if they are authentic or not, they just care that it tastes good, which they do. I don't understand why another commenter needs to "laugh at the next person who orders them", the joke is on you if you let some bullshit post keep you from eating what you like.
PS: general tso's chicken is about as American as you can get, in fact anything you order at most Chinese restaurants aren't authentic.

Anonymous said...

Who cares as long as you enjoy it? I already just figured they weren't cooked on there. But still I don't think it matters. The presentation is pretty nice and if it tastes good it tastes good. Who goes to some chain restaurant with burgers and pasta but expects the fajitas to be authentic? Also, no need to be so damn dramatic about it. "Wow just because I read this post that means I must never have a fajita again in my life! And I will point and laugh and spit at the next idiot I see order it! Muahaha who's the dumbass now?! Definitely not me!". Yeah um ok people. Who gives a shit, eat it or don't eat it. No need to cry over its audacity to pose as authentic to patrons going to some chain restaurant. Thank god we've been enlightened.

Anonymous said...

All you complainers can shove that authentic fajita skillet up your ass. And shove that racist undocumented shit up there too. Oh squirt some of that oil jizz up there to help lubricate while you're at it. But before you do any of that, make sure to pull out that long stick that's lodged up there first. Kthxbye :)