West Texas: Ay Chihuahua!
Ever tried a Chihuahua Sandwhich?
On day 1 of my trip to the Odessa/Midland region I came across this interesting family culinary creation. Midland's Big Sky drive-in movie theater is one of three family-owned drive-in theaters in West Texas that is home to the Chihuahua Sandwhich. Invented by Ed Noret in the 1950's, the Big Sky version of this unique drive-in treat included ground beef, cabbage, a whole jalapeno and a pimento cheese spread all sandwiched between two corn tostada shells. The drive-in movie itself is a fading remnant of postwar suburban America. Big Sky is one of 14 remaining drive-in movies in the state of Texas, but this delicious snack can also be found at the other 2 Noret family owned drive-ins in Lubbock and the original Sky-Vue Drive In in Lamesa, TX. Everybody in the Odessa/Midland area knows about the Chihuahua Sandwhich. Some people come to these drive-ins not to see a movie, but to place a to-go order for food and box up a few Chihuahuas for the road. The sandwich has even been featured in Popular Mechanics and Dallas/Fort Worth food and entertainment blog Crave. One Big Sky employee I spoke with who is now in her 60's said she's been eating Chihuahua Sandwiches since she was 15 growing up in Lamesa, and making them at the Big Sky concession stand since 2006.
As the advertisement before the feature film presentation conveyed, there's nothing quite like the experience of watching a movie inside the "comfort and security of your own car", hearing the audio from your car speakers transmitted via a unique FM radio frequency, and enjoying steak fingers, char burgers, a shrimp basket, popcorn, or the "the famous Chihuahua, the original Mexican sandwich". The concession stand itself hummed with a kind of vintage appeal, as gleaming black checkered floors beckoned me towards the counter. I easily took down two Chihuahuas. Before I leave town I hope to return to Big Sky and learn more about the history of the Chihuahua Sandwich, the man who invented this local food phenomenon, and his family, whose drive-in movie theaters allow Texans to experience this once icon of American culture, which has now fallen into the realm of the quasi novetly.
Look for more information about this and other unique culinary inventions and food traditions of the west Texas region.