DINE WRITE HAIL TO THE QUEEN Sylvia Casares Reigns Over Enchiladas By Janice Schindeler | Photography by Sarah Miller 3.11.2017 12:15pm Enchilada Flight FOR THOSE AMONG US FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO BE SOUTH TEXAS BORN, THE FOOD AT SYLVIA’S ENCHILADA KITCHEN TASTES OF HOME. THE BROWN GRAVY, CREAMY, DREAMY CHEESE ENCHILADAS – ONE WHOPPING PLATE OF NOSTALGIA. For us transplants, Sylvia’s Tex Mex menu is a geography lesson and an introduction to the culinary richness rooted in the cultural diversity of this regional cooking style. Tex Mex – a cooking style that emerged from the glory days of our republic, when borders were open, populations fluid and all tortillas were handmade. Dare we say 19th-century fusion food? Owner, enthusiastic powerhouse and Enchilada Queen, SYLVIA CASARES , Brownsville born, learned from her abuela and her madre but she took 20 L O C AL | april 17 cooking one step further – studying food science and home economics at university and working for a decade at Uncle Ben’s research and new product development kitchens. She honors the techniques of her family mentors (the brown gravy is made old school style with the toasting of chilies and long simmering times) and uses the food science knowledge to make the home flavors work on the large scale production her restaurants demand. A massive challenge as neither mom nor grandmother cooked from recipes.