The Border Patrol… and the birth of Baja California cuisine
Via KQED: “California Foodways”:
If you ask people in the city of Mexicali, Mexico, about their most notable regional cuisine, they won’t say street tacos or mole. They’ll say Chinese food. There are as many as 200 Chinese restaurants in the city. North of the border, in Imperial County, the population is mostly Latino, but Chinese restaurants are packed. There are dishes in this region you won’t find anywhere else, and a history behind them that goes back more than 130 years.
There’s a specific reason for all of this, according to Professor Robert Chao Romero.
“The restaurants you see now are remnants of the Chinese population that used to fill the U.S./Mexico borderlands in Mexicali and in Baja California,” he says.
… today’s Border Patrol grew out of the Mounted Guard of Chinese Inspectors, created to keep Chinese immigrants from entering the U.S. At the same time, the Mexican government welcomed Chinese immigrants to go to the sparsely populated border region, to work on farms and in mines and canals. Many Chinese immigrants settled in Mexicali, becoming grocers, merchants and restaurant owners.