Every Day is National Nacho Day
Thursday, November 14, 2013
You may have missed it, but November 6 was National Nachos Day! While we’ve always wondered who decides when some day or another qualifies as the “National” day for some random item, we won’t be spending a lot of time musing about this. Nachos are too important to question whether they should or should not be so honored. Suffice it to say, you still have time to celebrate this august occasion…but you need to start tonight.
This subject of nachos is particularly important to those of us who love Gordo’s Cheese Dip. The reason for this is obvious. Gordo’s Cheese Dip – any of the 6 flavors – is perfect for making world class nachos. We have a little recipe below that proves this.
But first, can you even imagine a world without nachos? Me neither. It would be a pretty sad planet. Thank goodness for Ignacio Anaya!
The History of Nachos
To get the flavor of the history of nachos, it’s necessary to go back to 1943, in the little Mexican town of Piedras Negras, located just across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas. Numerous online references, including Wikipedia note that this sublime delicacy was born at a restaurant called the “Victory Club.”
Back in 1943, the wives of ten U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Duncan in nearby Eagle Pass were in Piedras Negras on a shopping trip, and arrived at the restaurant after it had already closed for the day. The maître d, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, invented a new snack for them with what little he had available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. Mr. Anaya cut the tortillas into triangles, added shredded cheddar cheese, quickly heated them, added sliced jalapeño peppers and served them.
When asked what the dish was called, he answered, “Nacho’s especiales“. No doubt, the sound of a large, angelic choir singing “Hallelujah” was heard throughout the land! As word of the dish traveled, the apostrophe was lost, and Nacho’s “specials” became “special nachos” and the rest is gastronomical history.
Later, Nacho Anaya went on to work at the “Moderno Restaurant” in Piedras Negras, which still uses the original recipe and after this he opened his own restaurant, “Nacho’s Restaurant” (not the most original name for a restaurant, but hey he was a cuisine innovator, not an ad guy!). His original recipe was printed in the 1954 St. Anne’s Cookbook.
As with all history, there is some difference of opinion about the original nacho recipe. According to “El Cholo” (book on restaurant history), waitress Carmen Rocha is credited with making nachos in San Antonio, Texas before introducing the dish to Los Angeles at El Cholo Mexican restaurant in 1959. Likely as not, nachos were probably invented by a bunch of people, more or less simultaneously.
Wikipedia notes that a modified version of nachos, made with cheese sauce and prepared tortilla chips was marketed in 1976 by Frank Liberto, owner of Rico’s Products, during sporting events at Arlington Stadium, where the Texas Rangers MLB team played in their early days. This version became known as “ball park nachos.”
During a Monday Night Football game, the late sportscaster Howard Cosell enjoyed a heaping helping of the snack with his co-announcer and native Texas Don Meredith, loved the name “nachos” and made a point of mentioning the dish in his broadcasts over the following weeks, further popularizing it and introducing it to a whole new audience.
Sadly, Ignacio Anaya died in 1975 and in his honor a bronze plaque was erected in Piedras Negras. To further recognize him, October 21 was declared the International Day of the Nacho. Anaya’s son, Ignacio Anaya Jr., served as a judge at the annual nacho competition until his death in 2010. At some point in time, for some reason or another, National Nachos Day on November 6th evolved to further honor this pivotal innovation in snacking history.
The Evolution Continues
Since Nacho Anaya made the first batch, a plate of nachos has become de rigueur for fans of baseball, football, basketball, hockey or any other sport, including the silly ones that are in the winter Olympics. If there is a sporting event occurring, anywhere on the planet, it is practically mandated by the sports rules that fans must be eating nachos.
Just like the game of baseball has evolved from those early days, nachos have also evolved. Sure you can still make a plate of nachos with tortilla chips smothered in jalapenos and Gordo’s Cheese Dip, but the folks at Gordo’s were not content to keep it simple.
Just like the patron saint of nachos – Mr. Anaya – did back in 1943, the culinary artists at Gordo’s Cheese Dip developed an even better variation on the basic nachos. It’s called Gordo’s Fajita Nachos and it’s as simple to make as it is delicious!
- 1 ½ lbs flank steak, or
- 1 lb any flavor GORDO’S Cheese Dip (room temperature)
- 1 bag of tortilla chips
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 T. chili powder
- 2 t. minced garlic cloves
- 1 t. ground cumin
- 1 t. salt
Combine all your marinade ingredients into a 1 gallon zip lock bag and mix well. Place steak into the marinade bag and refrigerate at least two hours (turn occasionally).Heat your skillet and cook steak 3-5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the steak. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice steak thin on the diagonal.
Arrange a thick layer of tortilla chips, next layer steak, and top your nachos off with GORDO’S CHEESE DIP over everything.
Optional: Sour Cream, Salsa, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Lettuce, Tomatoes, cilantro, onions, shredded GORDO’S cheese.
Nacho Anaya would have LOVED ‘em!
Photo from Flickr Creative Commons