japan excels at mimicking the cuisine of other nations. in fact, it is often cited (by japanese people) that many foreigners come to japan to eat foods native to their own countries of origin. chinese people often comment that chinese food in japan is better than the chinese food readily available in china. similarly, restaurants which serve authentic italian and french cuisine are often top-notch (and super expensive).
but latin american cuisine, especially mexican food, is generally misunderstood. because i have often considered mexican food to be one of the cheapest and most delicious foods to make, this fact confuses and enrages me.
despite this, to seem more international, school lunches often include menu items such as “mexican pork saute” or “taco rice,” which are terrifyingly dissimilar to any latin american flavor profile i have ever experienced. which isn’t to say they taste bad. they just taste exactly like a japanese cook used the ingredients he had on hand to make something that vaguely resembled mexican food he saw in a picture.
tragically, on such days, i get to hankering for real mexican food, which is an itch not easily scratched in japan. hot peppers are practically nonexistent, fresh cilantro costs your first-born child, and tortillas are sighted about as often as big foot. and so, in such moments of desperation, i turn to my old friend tex-mex. no, it isn’t authentic mexican cuisine. but it is delicious, contains ingredients i can actually find, and is a heck of a lot closer to the flavor profile of mexican cuisine than the japanese knock-offs are.
and thus, the carnitas seasoned tex-mex slider was born.