You are sitting in a Mexican restaurant in London.
To the side of you, there's a family sitting down wearing a bunch of sombreros.
Some pictures of a sleepy Mexican dude sitting against a cactus hanging on the walls.
He's always sleeping. Does he work?
And the waitress -- a woman named Meghan -- comes up to your table to give you the menu.
While looking at it, you notice all the authentic Mexican food that you can choose from.
Should you go for that jalapeño coleslaw?
Perhaps the fiesta salad?
That sounds nice!
Who doesn't have food that will bring them a FIESTA?!
Then after 10 minutes of ordering it, you all of a sudden hear loud music coming from the kitchen.
Something that sounds like this here.
Mucha Lucha -- Chicos de Barrio
Just replace the words of the song from "LUCHA" to "FIESTA"
And the entire staff comes dancing out with sombreros and fake mustaches.
They are clapping.
Dancing around your table.
Singing along "FIESTA! FIESTA! TODAY IS YOUR FIESTA! ANDALE ANDALE WEY!! FIESTA!!"
The owner pulls out his bottle of tequila and you drink as much as you can.
And those sleeping Mexican men in the pictures on the wall?
They come to life!
Jumping out of the pictures and dancing along with you.
They ain't sleeping no more.
And the thing you have been waiting all 10 minutes for -- the FIESTA Salad -- is flung into the air and lands perfectly into your hands.
The entire staff then bows in front of you and tells you to "enjoy your FIESTA!"
Then they begin walking backwards into the kitchen and out of view.
Leaving you to enjoy....
The Lack of Fiesta in Authentic Mexican Food
While the scene above may or may not have actually happened somewhere in the world, the actual "fiesta salad" does exist.
And it does exist in London specifically.
Just recently, I came across this picture online.
It is of a Mexican restaurant in London that indeed does serve jalapeño coleslaw and fiesta salad.
Among other food items that might not seem so authentic to Mexican cuisine itself.
What I noticed about the image though was indeed their use of the word "fiesta" to describe the salad.
When you listen to some Mexicans critique Mexican food outside of Mexico, you often notice certain things they claim to dislike.
That being the infamous "Taco Bell" and all their not so Mexican food.
Other Mexican themed restaurants that add certain ingredients to the food that you don't find used in Mexico on the same food items.
To the constant portrayal of Mexicans being sleepy Joses sitting next to a cactus.
The overly large sombrero.
And, of course, the constant use of the words like "fiesta" to either use as part of the restaurant's name or on the food items themselves like you can see here.
We'll soon show why these guys are full of shit
Though, in my experience, Mexicans largely focus their critiques on the food itself and sometimes I have heard the rare one mention the "fiesta" characteristic.
It's mostly Mexican-Americans actually that go to battle bitching about the sombreros and the sleepy man by the cactus.
When it comes to the food anyway, I already wrote extensively about that topic in this article here and this one here.
To summarize, Mexicans are hypocritical about complaining about the food not being authentic and simply insecure about their culture being adopted to local tastes elsewhere when they themselves are guilty of changing the foods of other countries to their own local tastes.
They will do mental gymnastics to justify it but they're full of shit.
And, quite frankly, most of the world agrees that Mexican food done the "international way" is better than a lot of food in Mexico itself simply because that's what they choose to eat.
Be it in Argentina, Colombia, Poland, England, the US, Bolivia, Peru, etc.
From what I have seen personally having eaten "Mexican" food in all of those countries, they all have a collective idea and agree it tastes better.
Voting with their dollar (or peso, pound, złoty, etc).
They also, as you can see here, agree that the sleepy man with the sombrero needs to be included.
Benito Juarez Restaurant from Colombia here.
So let's leave that topic about the food aside since you can read those other articles if you are curious.
Getting back to the fiesta bit though, I'd say Mexicans are generally right that there is a comical use of the word "fiesta" in Mexican food outside of Mexico.
Similarly, you have foreigners using the words like "crazy" or "loco" or whatever else.
Though, to be fair, you do sometimes see these words used in Mexico itself in restaurants.
I have seen it over the years.
For example, while it isn't Mexican food and probably a consequence of being an American food place, I do know Little Ceasers in Mexico advertises a "crazy sauce."
As I look at their menu on Uber Eats right now, they also have a "Ultimate Supreme," "Crazy Crunch," "Crazy Dip," "Crazy Bread," "Crazy Combo" and whatever else.
I always found it ironic by the way that Mexicans get bitchy about some foreigners not learning Spanish but yet they have to drop some English words in Mexico while in Little Ceasers, Starbucks or similar establishments to order what they want.
Of course, that's not Mexican food and not even a Mexican owned restaurant.
But you do have some "fiesta" or "loco" names in Mexican restaurants in Mexico City.
I know because I just looked.
Here's a screenshot.
And most of them are not even in touristy areas!
We have the "La Fiesta Restaurante Bar" in Santa Fe.
A "Flautas La Fiesta" in Miguel Hidalgo.
Some "Fiesta Sofia" in Iztacalco.
Another place simply called "Fiesta" in Tlalnepantla de Baz of Estado de Mexico.
"Fiesta Men" in Pedregal de Santo Domingo of Coyoacan.
A "Fiesta Itzel" in Roma Norte.
There is a "Fiesta Vegana MX" and a "La Fiesta Brava" in Iztapalapa.
Now, to be fair, that's only a handful in such a huge place like Mexico City.
A few of them seemed closed forever and I haven't been to any of those spots to tell if they actually are restaurants and not just some place to hold a social gathering, party or event.
But Google does say they are restaurants so we'll leave it at that.
We also have no shortage of "loco" restaurants as you can see here.
We have at least the following: Pollo Loco, Locos por las Milanesas, Cocos Locos, Ferry Loco, El Quesadillon Loco, Taqueria El Taco Loco, El Camaron Loco, El Taco Loco, El Pambazo Loco, Birrieria el Chivo Loco, Poco Loco, El Corte Loco, Puesto Loco, Perro Loco, El Vato Loco, Huarache Loco Rios, El Huarache Loco, Marisqueria El Camaron Loco Jr, Rosticeria El Pollo Loco, etc.
And a few others with similar names!
So, at least when it comes to the use of the word loco (and to some degree fiesta) as part of a restaurant name, those few Mexican dudes shown in that one screenshot way above can suck a dick.
They also use the those terms (especially loco) to name a restaurant.
But let's be fair in at least comparing this to the US and the UK.
If we were to compare Mexico City to a similar city in the US, I guess it'd have to be New York City, no?
Here's a screenshot of what I found here.
From what I'm seeing, there seems to be 5 Mexican restaurants with the name "fiesta" on them: La Fiesta, La Fiesta, Fiesta Mexican Restaurant, Fiesta Mexican Kitchen and another called Fiesta Mexican Restaurant.
So, at least when compared to New York, clearly Mexico City is having more of a fiesta.
But are they loco?
Well, as you can see in this screenshot here, we have a variety of restaurants with the name loco but not too many: El Mango Loko, Loco Coco, Amor Loco, San Loco, Burrito Loco and Toro Loco.
What about when compared to Los Angeles?
Here's a screenshot for fiesta.
Well, there's a shit ton of fiesta going on in Los Angeles!
From what I am seeing, we have the following places: Fiesta Martin Bar and Grill, La Fiesta Brava, Fiesta Cantina, Fiesta Mexicana #1 and #2, Fiesta Birria, Fiesta Mexicana, Taco Fiesta, Tacos Fiesta LA, Fiesta Taco, Fiesta Feast, La Fiesta #1, and Viva la Fiesta Mexican Restaurant.
So 13 different restaurants that are having a fiesta.
But is Los Angeles loco?
As you can see here, there's more loco restaurants than in NYC (probably due to the higher amount of Mexicans versus the other types of Latinos NYC has like Dominicans): Tacos Locos, Mariscos El Pescado and El Pollo Loco.
In fact, as you can see here, almost every single "loco" restaurant is "El Pollo Loco" that is actually a chain restaurant from Mexico as you can read in this article.
So, in terms of the amount of different restaurants that are loco, not even Los Angeles has Mexico City beat.
And yet some Mexicans bitch about us gringos using of the term loco or fiesta in the food industry?
Of course, they might respond with "well, we use those terms to name restaurants but wouldn't use exaggerated terms for food!"
We'll soon show that is bullshit too.
Going back to London, I will be fair to the British in saying I only saw one restaurant named "fiesta" something as you can see in this screenshot here.
And, for loco, the UK is equally is not very loco as you can see here with just one restaurant showing.
Probably the relative lack of Mexicans or Mexican-Americans in London compared to the US has something to do with this obviously.
At any rate, I could go all day.
At least when it comes to restaurant names, the idea that Mexicans are above calling their restaurants "fiesta" or "loco" doesn't seem to hold up if you look at Mexico City.
And especially if you begin to wonder how many of those Mexican restaurants we saw in NYC and LA are run by Mexicans (especially with all the Mexicans in LA).
Though, to be fair, just because you have Mexicans naming their restaurants "fiesta" or "loco" doesn't mean that the emphasis on using those words more isn't stronger in countries like the US.
It could be that -- at least for the word "fiesta" -- the Mexicans running some of those restaurants are just appealing to local consumer interests.
Similarly, you have Mexican restaurants in the US that are run by Mexicans but the food isn't 100% authentic because some of it has been changed to adjust to local tastes.
When it comes to menus though, I definitely agree you see more of the words "loco" or fiesta" put on the menus up there in the US or, as we saw with London, in the UK than in Mexico itself.
That's absolutely true.
The only time I can ever recall seeing the words "crazy" or "loco" on the menu down here in Mexico is when it is an American restaurant like Little Ceasers.
If you paid me to go find an actual Mexican restaurant serving Mexican food in Mexico with the words "loco" or "fiesta" on menu food items, I'd probably go to some resort in Cancun or any other place that is heavy with tourism.
That'd be my best guess as to where you'd see that (and, even then, I have no idea if you would as I've never been on a resort in Cancun).
Though, as we'll see soon, Mexicans are not above using exaggerated terms either to describe food items that aren't even from their culture (such as super pizza).
Anyway, before we get to that, enjoy this video on a Mexican restaurant in the US that called themselves "Fiesta Garibaldi" and then "Fiesta Sunrise" from Kitchen Nightmares as it relates to the topic.
Now let's wrap this up with some final comments.
There's a few last minute things to say.
First, it's obviously not that important of a topic.
If you get angry or rude about it, I'm guessing you are either 1) an insecure Mexican or Mexican-American that doesn't like foreigners interacting with or changing your culture in anyway or 2) a non-Latino white person who is trying to be more woke than the next person and find an issue that isn't even yours to be mad about so you can feel superior to someone else.
With the first group anyhow, they are as equally to bitch about how we make the food not so authentic like I wrote about here.
But, be it changing the names or the ingredients with the food, Mexicans just need to suck it up and quit bitching.
Outside of the previous arguments made about that in the beginning of this article, you also have the fact that even Mexican food isn't true to itself or static.
The tacos al pastor were invented by Lebanese immigrants for example.
Among other foods either changed or invented by foreigners.
Sometimes shit just changes for the better.
Be it changes invented by gringos or Lebanese or whoever else.
Second, I think it shows though, on a deeper level, the differences in marking between the US and the UK at the very least and Latin American countries like Mexico.
They do engage in similar marketing practices to be fair. Many of which are effective on people in any culture.
But, though it probably deserves its own article, you do notice certain differences in marketing across cultures and most of that is usually due to cultural differences.
One could wonder then if there is something about the American psyche that finds it appealing to call something by exaggerated terms.
Their need to put on everything "LOCO" or "CRAZY" or "SUPREME."
That isn't to say that type of marketing doesn't exist and isn't promoted by Mexicans themselves in Mexico.
Doing a quick search on Uber Eats right now, I can see a few non-American restaurants using terms like "ultra" or "super" or "x-treme" like you can see here.
Here we have more descriptive words than just "super."
"Fan" and "Lover."
And keep in mind that place is in Iztapalapa.
Definitely not catering to non-Spanish speaking gringos.
Well, that's a little more descriptive than "super" or "extreme."
A bit like "fiesta" actually.
And that restaurant isn't in a touristy place. Interesting.
Not to mention listening to the TV down here or having to suffer Youtube advertisements marketed for Mexicans and occasionally hearing such terms in commercials
At the end of the day, certain marketing tactics simply work for people of many cultures.
But I do think that people of certain cultures -- like Americans for example -- have an extra need to put those BIG words with their products.
SUPER. CRAZY. LOCO. AMAZING. BIG. HUGE. DELUXE. EXTREME.
Third, you'll definitely then notice a correlation between how frequently words like "fiesta" or "loco" are being used in said restaurant and how inauthentic the Mexican food is going to be.
Similar to how there is a correlation between how many Mexicans actually work there versus how inauthentic the food is.
Be it your waitress is a woman named Ashley from your high school class or her name is Aracali and she was born in Tamaulipas.
In regards to the correlation between the use of terms like fiesta and loco and how inauthentic the food is, the most guilty of this is obviously Taco Bell as you can see here.
As a quick thought: I wonder now who started the whole "calling food items loco or fiesta?" Was it Taco Bell or who? There is definitely no shortage of examples of Taco Bell using these terms for their food going back decades to at least the 1980s with the "Fiesta Menu" (if not earlier?).
Fourth, if I had stayed living in Iowa, I probably wouldn't have ever noticed though this correlation concerning these terms.
But, more importantly, there is an argument to be made though that you learn a lot about your own culture by moving away from it.
Where certain details become more noticeable after you've been away for some time.
Fifth, what's the final verdict on using these terms like fiesta or loco?
Or any of the other ones mentioned for any other food item (Mexican or not) such as supreme, extreme, deluxe, etc.
Well, if you need to put labels on your food to make it sound nice, it might not be as nice as you think.
A label doesn't make the food good. The chef makes the food good.
But, having said that, I don't mind this marketing tactic at all.
In fact, I think it's smart but, more importantly, sounds cooler, doesn't it?
Maybe that's the American in me.
But let me ask you a quick question.
What sounds more AWESOME to eat?
Tacos al Pastor
CRAZY TACOS AL PASTOR DE LA FIESTA
What?!?! They are CRAZY?! Crazy in how TASTY they are?! FUCK YEAH! Give me some!
The Huaraches de Pollo versus the Huaraches de POLLO LOCO
The Gorditas versus the GORDITAS DE TETAS GRANDES
The Shot of Tequila versus the TEQUILA SUNRISE
The Burrito Norteño versus the Burrito Norteño THAT'LL MAKE YOU SHIT FOR WEEKS.
The Pozole versus the Holy Pozole
Of course, leave it to us gringos with better marketing capability to take this marketing tactic to greater heights.
No need to thank us.
Finally, let's go back to that screenshot shown way above.
Mexicans like these guys like to pretend they are superior and that they don't as often put certain descriptive words that are unnecessary onto food items.
In my personal opinion, I'd argue this is one of those cases of locals coming up with reasons to bitch about foreigners they were always biased against because it's better optics to come up with shit that you claim annoys you than just directly saying "I simply don't like those people."
I'd imagine they'd equally dislike gringos naming Mexican restaurants "loco" or "fiesta" also.
But, as we have seen, there's no shortage of Mexicans who eat at places called "loco" and, in a few cases, "fiesta" down here.
When it comes to food, we saw no shortage of examples (among so many more I could've brought up that I saw).
To be fair, while super is a descriptive word, it is technically a Spanish word too if you put an accent over the "u."
For other words, they were using words not from THEIR language (mine actually) to describe both foods from their culture and foods that are not from Mexican cuisine.
Especially with foods like pizza, bagels, acai bowls, crepas, hummus, etc.
In some cases, even using words like "tropical" which has a similar vibe to "fiesta."
And that place was in Iztapalapa like I said.
Of course, I don't mind if they choose to use words from my amazing language (English) or that they wish to use such descriptive words (tropical, extreme, great, etc) to describe food that aren't part of Mexican culture.
It's a globalized world.
Plus, I'm not going to use such an issue to cover for any deeper issues I have about people of another country unlike others shown who might be too limp dick to say what really bothers them directly.
So let's cut the bullshit.
As I said before, it's a simple marketing tactic used in many countries and Mexico is not innocent of it either.
But I will be fair in reiterating that it definitely seems that, as part of American culture, there is a much stronger tendency to use these descriptive words for food items from cuisine all around the world and not just Mexican.
Of course, if we were to really dig a bit deeper into this subject, there's likely one other argument Mexicans like those in the screenshot would bring up as they mentioned sombreros.
"Well, in Mexico, we don't promote a stereotypical image of what it means to be American."
In the sense that no American themed restaurants here have some logo of a fat dude eating a hamburger next to a monster truck?
None of that here.
That isn't to say though that Mexicans don't have a stereotypical negative image of gringos in their head (despite never having really gotten to know one in some cases like I wrote here).
But American themed restaurants in Mexico are about as unimaginative as Mexican restaurants in the US because they too only promote a select few foods (hamburgers or hotdogs) and completely disregard so much more to the country like:
- Southern Food (cole slaw, garlic bread, etc)
- Often lack certain styles of pizza like Chicago style.
- Haven't seen a philly cheesesteak or a Po' Boy ever.
- What about certain things like clam chowder?
- Soul food?
So on and so on.
So while there is some credibility to this detail of the argument, Mexicans are not that innocent either when it comes to this even.
At any rate, that's all I got to say.
You're probably just as hungry as I am after reading this whole article.
So go on and enjoy your "taco loco" or "fiesta burrito" if you're a gringo or go enjoy your "great pizza" or "tropical acai bowl" if you're a Mexican.
At the end of the day, it truly doesn't matter if people want to use such terms for their menus or restaurants.
It's dumb for people to find offense to it and it is, like I said a few times now, simply a marketing tactic that one could argue is used in many cultures (including Mexico) but seems to be done more aggressively in the US (as it relates to Mexican food or any other cuisine).
Truly only a topic for those with too much time on their hands (like me!).
If you got anything to add to the topic -- agree or disagree -- throw a comment below.
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And thanks for reading.