Tostadas, a type of Mexican food, are corn tortillas served either fried, toasted, or baked and covered with a variety of different toppings. Typical toppings on tostadas are refried beans, guacamole, beef, cheese, chicken, lettuce, onion, salsa, or tomato. They are very similar to tacos except that they are usually left flat rather than folded in half. On most occasions, they are served as a main dish. Most people consider them one of the easier Mexican dishes to make because the preparation and cooking time is usually quick.
Chalupas are generally considered similar to tostadas. The primary difference between the two dishes is the type of tortilla used. A chalupa is usually made with a soft, flour tortilla while tostadas are made with harder corn tortillas. Chalupas are typically served flat and covered with toppings like tostadas, but the tortilla isn't always cooked. When making tostadas, the tortilla is normally cooked to ensure crispiness.
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Tex-Mex cuisine is a phrase commonly attached to tostadas because of their popularity in the United States. Foods that are labeled Tex-Mex include any Latin American cuisine that became popular in Texas or other Southwestern states and is widely served throughout the US. These dishes may be identical or slightly altered versions of the original. In addition to tostadas, other foods frequently labeled as Tex-Mex are burritos, enchiladas, tacos, chalupas, guacamole, quesadillas, refried beans, salsa, and tamales.
There are a few differences between traditional Mexican cuisine and food that is considered Tex-Mex. The tastes of Mexican immigrants and Americans were not always the same, and as a result much of the Mexican food introduced to the United States was altered using slightly different ingredients and cooking methods. For example, pork is generally used instead of ground beef in most authentic Mexican recipes. In Tex-Mex cuisine, ground beef is much more common. Cheese is another ingredient that Americans often use in generous amounts in their version of Latin American cuisine.
Availability was another factor that may have influenced the differences between traditional Mexican food and its American version. Some food items that were readily available in Mexico may not have been as easy to acquire across the border. For example, certain recipes that may have been dependent on a particular type of chile pepper not grown in the US couldn't be made, so people often had to alter their recipes to work with ingredients that were accessible to them.