I wonder if there is anywhere in the world where people have not enjoyed some variety of Nachos. The very simple to prepare dish has been prepared on every continent, containing the same basic ingredients.
I have trouble remembering the first time I ever ate Nachos. I believe I was a sixth grader and had some at my Jewish friend Michael’s house. Michael’s mom experimented with all sorts of foods. Of course, her Nachos were made with kosher ingredients.
Nachos’ actual beginnings are rather humble. The story goes something like this: One day in 1943, several soldiers’ wives had been shopping across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. They arrived at a restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico at closing time. The maître d’ concocted a hearty snack for the ladies, using the few ingredients left over in the kitchen. He basically had only some raw tortillas, Wisconsin style cheddar cheese, and a few jalapeño peppers.
He carved the tortillas into triangle shapes and fried them. Then he added shredded cheese, reheated the dish, then topped it off with sliced jalapeños. The women enjoyed their quick meal and asked the maître di’, Ignacio Nacho Anaya, the name of the food. His answer? “Nacho’s especiales”. Word of the yummy dish spread quickly. Nacho’s specials lost the apostrophe and were soon known as special nachos as people throughout Texas began eating the specialty.
The 1949 cookbook, A Taste Of Texas is credited with introducing the word “nachos” to printed English. The popular spread of Nachos to the rest of the United States is credited to ABC sports announcer Howard Cosell. He found out about the variation on the dish called “ball park nachos”. He liked the name so he used the humorous sounding word in his play by play broadcasts and sports reports that were heard by his national audience.
These days, there are many tasty variations of Nachos, using almost any variety of vegetable or meats imaginable. One of the best, in my view, was prepared on the spur of the moment by my friend Jorge. He wanted to prepare some Juevos Rancheros for me because Jorge knows how much I enjoy the delicious Mexican ranch style egg dish. However, he had run out of flour tortillas.
The quick-thinking Jorge whipped out a bag of tortilla chips and a can of processed nacho cheese dip. He prepared the Juevos Rancheros in the time honored way, but then served them on the prepared Nachos. I asked him to name his invention. He calls it Nachos Rancheros. I called it excellente’.
After Ignacio Nacho Anaya passed away in 1975, a bronze plaque was dedicated in Piedras Negras, Mexico. October 21st was then declared as the “International Day Of The Nacho”. There is an International Nacho Festival at Piedras Negras from October 13th through 15th. Anaya’s son, Ignacio, Junior, is a judge at the yearly cook off.
Writing this has given me the munchies. I think I’ll prepare a platter of Nacho’s Especiales using the authentic, original recipe right now.
The Blue Jay of Happiness knows that Nachos are a fun hospitality snack to serve when friends drop by.