Halloween is usually a night of hectic preparations and emergency costume repairs. It's not a great time to try to cook an elaborate meal—which is why Frito Pie has become our holiday dinner tradition. I put on a big pot of chili con carne early in the day and ladle some out into individual size Fritos corn chip bags when somebody gets hungry.
Chopped onions, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes and pickled jalapeños are all suitable additions. The combination of condiments probably evolved at hamburger counters, hot dog joints, and high school football stadium concession stands where these ingredients are always on hand.
You can dump the Fritos into a bowl instead of eating out of the bag if you like. But don't bother with the presentation—trying to make Frito Pie look pretty is pointless.
Frito pie can be found on Houston taco trucks and at the many James Coney Island locations. There is a drug store in New Mexico called the Five & Dine General Store that claims to have invented Frito Pie. "Warm crap in a bag," is how Tony Bourdain described Frito Pie on his television show when he visited the New Mexico drug store, also calling it "colostomy pie." He recommended that New Mexico send the dish back to Texas where it was invented. He later issued an apology.
This isn't the first time Bourdain has dissed Tex-Mex. He grew up in a place where it's cool to call the home food of the Tejano people crap. And he always seems bewildered that anybody should take offense.
In Bourdain's view, the American regional cuisine called Tex-Mex is a punching bag and a punchline. But this time, instead of just getting irate, I am going to issue an invitation:
Hey Tony Bourdain! Let me give you a Tex-Mex tour and history lesson. If you still don't like the food after tasting the best, fine. At least you'll know what you're talking about.