HUFFINGTON POST
10/13/2010 11:25 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

China Poblano: Chef José Andrés's Chinese/Mexican Vegas Venture

The restaurant's name is a play on China Poblana, the legendary slave woman of Asian descent whose arrival in Mexico is supposed to have inspired the stereotypical "china dress" of the 19th century. But in Mr. Andrés's universe, the second "a" in poblana has segued to an "o" in homage to the mild Puebla chili pepper.

Mr. Andrés finds much commonality in the two cultures, where the tortilla isn't that unlike the pancake used to wrap Peking duck. But the combination of Chinese and Latin food is as commonplace as the flickering neon signs proclaiming "comidas Chinas y Latinas" (Latin-American and Chinese dishes) at storefront Hispanic restaurants in New York. "But this is a new path for me," Mr. Andrés said.

Not for Mexican cooks, though.

"There is a Chinese tradition in Mexico, and for a hundred years there have been large Chinese populations in Baja," said Jeffrey Pilcher, a professor of history at the University of Minnesota whose forthcoming book, "Planet Taco," is a chronicle of the global spread of Mexican food. And for centuries the Manila galleons sailed to Acapulco in New Spain, "bringing silk and porcelain from China in return for silver, and bringing in immigrants as well," he said.

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