Food trucks used to be something that Austin seemed to want to call its own. But food trucks are a phenomenon now – not just in big cities either.
There’s designer pizza and halal food, to name two popular offerings, but perhaps the biggest draw of all are breakfast tacos. But what if, instead of getting your tacos from a food truck in Texas, you could get Texas barbecue in Mexico?
Dan DeFossey calls himself a “chilango-gringo,” an American in Mexico City. He got inspired by the food truck culture in Texas and took that concept to Mexico City. He is the founder of Pinche Gringo BBQ, a place that offers Mexicans some Texas barbecue and presents the culture that surrounds it in a different light.
“We have people who are really committed to presenting American culture, not what we get from TV or movies. They can experience a beautiful part of our culture, which is barbecue,” says DeFossey.
The name might raise a few eyebrows. The word pinche is a bad word in Spanish. But the owners are trying to make a humble statement.
“We took the word because sometimes Americans can have some arrogance towards Mexico,“ he says. “It gives us good humility when we make fun of ourselves.”
DeFossey says Mexicans have affinity with barbecue culture, something that has been favorable to him.
“BBQ is very similar to mole, that mexicans make, because the mole is rich in tradition,” he says. “Your grandmother wakes up at 4 in the morning and makes the mole with love, and I think bbq is really similar to that. So when they identify something similar to what we do in the U.S., that’s barbecue diplomacy. It’s people coming together and learning about the similarities in our cultures, instead of being reminded of the differences all the time.”
Pinche Gringo BBQ has received media coverage for a new approach to their staff. New teammates are recent deportees coming back to Mexico after having lived for long periods in the United States.
“When we started hiring, we started finding out their stories. One gentleman was living in L.A. for 28 years. He had a wife, he had two children born in the U.S., he was a good citizen who respected the laws. One day, he went through a red light. The police pulled him over, and a couple of weeks later, he ended up in Mexico City, a place he hadn’t been to in 28 years,” DeFossey says.
DeFossey was moved by this story, “because they could be like you or me coming to Mexico for the first time, because it’s a strange world for them. After that interview I said I wanted to hire as many deportees as I can. So now we have 8 people working with very similar stories,” he says.
Now, anybody in Mexico City can know more about the rich Texas gastronomic culture. “[Customers] come in, they have a big smile and then they open up their hearts to a new type of food that didn’t exist in Mexico,” DeFossey says.
Written by Alvaro Céspedes.