Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Dear Mexican: I read an article you linked to about how it could be hard to order a lime in Spanish-speaking South American countries. The bottom line was that, depending on where you are, un limón could mean a lemon or a lime; it was all a matter of local dialect.

Curiously, limes originated in Europe, and lemons in Asia. Growing up in Encinitas, Calif., there was never a question of la palabra correcta for which was which.

This realization, logically, led me to ask you: How did the combination of onion and cilantro—both basically Mediterranean in origin, and brought to the New World by the Spanish—become such intrinsic ingredients in the culinary traditions seemingly everywhere south of the border?

Devorador de Nopal

Dear Cactus Eater: Wait … how did you go from an etymological question about lemons and limes to asking about onions and cilantro? That’s a non-sequitur on the lines of talking about democracy, and then mentioning Trump. But the Mexican will use any opportunity to plug the works of his pals, so I forwarded your question to Lesley Tellez, author of the fabulous Eat Mexico: Recipes From Mexico City’s Streets, Markets and Fondas, and creator of great restaurant tours through la mera capirucha.

“Mexicans have a rich history of using aromatic herbs in their cooking,” says Tellez. “Pápaloquelite, epazote, hierbas de olor (just to name a few)—they’re used abundantly to flavor everything from quesadillas to stews. Cilantro came from Asia, but its herbal punch fits right in.

“As for onion, there’s evidence that a type of wild onion existed before the Spaniards arrived, so indigenous Mexicans might’ve already had a palate for it. The combo that’s popular at Mexican taquerías today—raw, diced white onion, mixed with chopped cilantro—is all about texture and balance. The taco needs that necessary crunch and brightness, just as much as it needs salsa.”

Everyone: Buy Lesley’s book. And Devorador: Linear arguments, cabrón!

Dear Mexican: Why do us Mexicans use the word confleis—or “corn flakes” for the gabas—when talking about any type of cereal?

Tepito Timoteo

Dear Pocho: The same reason gabachos say “Xerox” as a verb when they want to photocopy anything, call cotton swabs “Q-Tips” and call all steroidal creams “Quadriderm.”

The bigger question is how Mexican Spanish seemingly mangles a straightforward term like “corn flakes” into confleis. The answer, como siempre, is elision, the linguistic concept of combining vowels and consonants to create new words that confound gabachos and fancy-ass Mexicans alike. Try this head scratcher: How does “Pues, está para allá, hermano” (“Well, he’s over there, brother”) turn into “Pos, ’ta’ pa’lla, ’mano”?


Folks, the Fox cartoon on which I serve as a consulting producer was just cancelled, but we’re holding out hopes of some sort of last-minute revival, or perhaps a look by another network or a streaming service, so por favor watch THIS SUNDAY at 7 p.m., or stream it any time on Hulu or FOX Now.

You have more of a mandate to watch this week’s episode, as it’s the season finale, and your humble Mexican wrote the episode. Gracias, and don’t forget to tweet #renewbordertown!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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Dear Mexican: I was wondering if you can help me. I’m trying to get my family tree together. My family is from San Julian, Jalisco. Both of my grandparents were part of the bracero program, and I was wondering: What is the agency or institution where they hold the list of names of Mexicans who were part of the program? I would greatly appreciate it.

Jalisco No Se Raja

Dear Jalisco Never Backs Down: Your abuelitos were braceros? One of mine was, too, along with a chingo of uncles—one of whom ended up picking beets in Michigan. Fun!

Just to remind the gabas who braceros were: They were members of the original guest-worker program between the United States and Mexico, originally set up during World War II, so that our fighting men could go kill commie Nazis. Originally an executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the bracero program continued until the mid-1960s. While the pendejo GOP presidential field sometimes wishes it would return, someone should remind them the program ended because of exploitative conditions and the fact that both the American and Mexican governments shorted braceros on their salary by withholding 10 percent of their wages—wages that elderly braceros and their descendants were still battling both governments for as recently as last year.

On the Mexican side, the Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB, as acronym-obsessed Mexico calls it) has a registry of ex-braceros; on the American side, try the excellent online Bracero History Archive hosted by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Good luck, and don’t think your great-grandpa was special because he fought with Pancho Villa; EVERY Mexican’s bisabuelo says that!

Dear Mexican: Yesterday in a parking lot, I was opening my car door to get out, and a lovely Mexican lady was opening her door next to me to put her young child in her car. We both opened our doors at the same time. We both quickly pulled our doors in to avoid hitting each other, but then she quickly reopened her door and took a long time to put her child in the car, thus making me wait when it would have taken me only a second to get out; she then could have proceeded.

I didn’t understand why she did this, especially when I’m an older woman and seemingly should have been granted the right-of-way. I’ve always been under the impression that in the Mexican culture, the senior woman would be given courteous regard.

Leisure World Lady

Dear Gabacha: Yes, we respect our elders—but we respect a woman with a child more, and so should you. Plus, you’re a gabacha—and gabachos are EVIL. Lucky she didn’t steal your country while you were waiting.

Oh, wait…


Reward your faithful Mexican with the regalo of watching Bordertown, the Fox animated show on which I served as a consulting producer. It airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. Central). Watch it live; DVR it; watch it on Hulu or Fox Now—I don’t really care, as long as you watch it! And por favor, don’t pirate it until the eighth season!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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Bordertown (Sunday, Jan. 3, Fox), series debut: “It’s about time we did something about immigration—the Southwest belongs to retired art teachers and meth-lab entrepreneurs!” So begins Bordertown, the long-long-delayed animated comedy from Family Guy producer Mark Hentemann, with a cultural-consulting assist from Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucharacha cartoonist) and Gustavo Arellano (Ask a Mexican columnist). Bordertown mashes-up the Tex-Mex sensibilities of King of the Hill with Family Guy’s rapid-fire absurdism, as well equal-opportunity skewering of Whitey/Latino relations and conservative/liberal agendas. At the show’s center are Bud (voiced by Hank Azaria), a Fox News-loving ’Merican who works as a U.S. border agent in the desert town of Mexifornia, and Ernesto (Nicholas Gonzalez), his immigrant next-door neighbor who’s achieved more in a few years here than Bud has in his entire life—hell, even Bud’s boss is Mexican. Of all the comedies that have tried, and mostly failed, to capture the country’s modern dual-cultural reality (sorry, Trump), Bordertown comes closest to nailing it, hilariously and even-handedly. As if to remind you that Family Guy folks are involved, there’s a Philip Seymour Hoffman joke in the second episode that goes way too far. ¡Viva Bordertown!

Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life (Sunday, Jan. 3, Fox), series debut: It may have all the quirks of a 1995 network sitcom (20-something “friends” with no apparent jobs, an oddly named lead character who talks directly to the camera, the presence of the word “Guide” in the title, etc.), but Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life is actually a new Fox comedy—I can tell because it stars Jack Cutmore-Scott (Kingsman: The Secret Service), and the review screener didn’t arrive on a VHS tape. Despite Cutmore-Scott’s charms and a promising support cast (including Meaghan Rath, Justin Bartha and Liza Lapira, all vets of better shows), this is just a lazy bro-com that’s nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is, like Fox decided the world needs a “thinky” alternative to NBC’s Undateable. Yes, I realize that anything is a “thinky” alternative to Undateable

Galavant (Sunday, Jan. 3, ABC), season premiere: If you’re thinking, “Wasn’t this canceled?” or, “What’s Galavant?” or, “Wait … is 2015 over already?” or any combination therein, you’re not alone. Galavant, a “musical fairytale comedy” (yes, really), debuted in January of last year, blowing out eight back-to-back episodes over four weeks and generating a small buzz with its over-the-top silliness and catchy-as-scurvy song-and-dance numbers. Galavant is essentially a live-action Disney cartoon, with borrowed elements from Monty Python, Men in Tights and (get ready to strain your Wiki) When Things Were Rotten—and it mostly works. Timothy Omundson (unrecognizable from Psych) is the series’ beardy MVP as King Richard, and creator/writer Dan Fogelman (Tangled, The Neighbors) knows how to balance camp and cutting: The first episode of Season 2 is subtitled “Suck It Cancel Bear,” a reference to the Internet TV-demise predictor that repeatedly labeled Galavant as a goner last year. Cheeky.

Finding Bigfoot (Sunday, Jan. 3, Animal Planet), season premiere: Season 9, that is. Which means Finding Bigfoot has failed to find Bigfoot in more than 70 episodes now. From what I’ve seen—which is, admittedly, limited to clips from The Soup (R.I.P.) and random chunks accidentally DVRed after E!’s The Royals—there’s nothing to “keep up” on, as nothing ever happens on the screen. Seriously, nothing. It is sort like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which is just endless hours of plastic dolts who are barely more “real” than Sasquatch, contributing nada and sucking oxygen. Looking for Bigfoot is as pointless as wishing death upon the Kardashians and Jenners, because it’s not like they were ever really “here” or “did” anything, either. Scott Disick, however … there’s a man of action.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Wednesday, Jan. 6, FXX), season premiere: The Gang kicks off Season 11 by referencing Season 7: A board-game company is interested in buying the utterly incomprehensible drinking game that Charlie, Dee, Mac and Dennis invented, the epic “Chardee MacDennis,” which includes—but is not limited to—booze-chugging, dog kennels and emotional battery. Can they cooperate long enough to not blow the deal? Are you unfamiliar with The Greatest Comedy in the History of Television? Long live It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

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Dear Mexican: I want to start by saying I’m a Chicano. Now, I don’t understand why you allow Gustavo Arellano’s column in your publication.

He is a racist. First, he has a negative cartoon of a Mexican. Just look at it. Just because his last name is Arellano, that does not give him the right to display such filth and to speak for all people of Mexican or Latino decent.

Second, he calls white people gabachos. In Spanish, this is the white stuff that accumulates at the corner of your mouth. It’s the equivalent to calling a black person a “nigger,” a Mexican a “beaner” or a Jew a “kike.” It’s ugly, isn’t it?

I’ve brought this up to him, and his response to me is that it’s all in jest. How can you call a person a racist name in jest? Please take his racist ass off your magazine, and please look into the word gabacho.

Chicano Charlie

Dear Readers: This guy followed up with me by sending a private email that whined, “I don’t think you have the balls” to publish this letter.

Well, guess what, Chicano Charlie? Not only do I have the huevos; I also have the facts. I’ve never claimed to speak for all Mexicans—just the smart ones. A gabacho is a gabacho, not saliva—you’re thinking of baba, which you should be familiar with, since your words are babadas. If we want to call a gabacho a nasty slur, we call him a Donald Trump supporter. And who says you can’t call someone a racist name in jest?

Anything is possible in this columna—including not granting a pendejo his dream. So guess what, Chicano Charlie? This columna ain’t going nowhere—feliz navidad, gabacho!

Dear Mexican: I own a shop in a small shopping complex. I see lone Mexican guys (with no wife or girlfriend in sight) buying expensive pieces of jewelry. I’m sure they are going to trade the jewelry for quickie sex, possibly with our women. Isn’t this crude, low-class and tantamount to prostitution? At least us white Americans of European descent know how to wine, dine and make a girl feel special before asking for the hot biscuit.

Where’s the romance? Are Mexicans only interested in getting their rocks off?

An Honestly Outraged Local Entrepreneur

Dear Chinito: Bruh, you’re just jealous they ain’t shopping at whatever piece-of-caca storefront you operate. And you’re also mad these hombres are getting action—the last I heard, a woman is more apt to go out with a man who surprises her with a ring than some loser who refers to her privates as a “hot biscuit.”

But, yes: Mexican men are only interested in having sex with white women. Sucks for you!


For another awesome year of random questions, kind words, hilarious haters, and ever-present DESMADRE.

Reward your faithful Mexican with the regalo of watching the premiere of Bordertown, the Fox animated show on which I served as a consulting producer. It starts Sunday, Jan. 3, at 9:30 p.m., and will air each Sunday at the same time afterward. Watch it live; DVR it; stream it on Hulu—I don’t really care as long as you watch it within a week of its air date.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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We Americans have been spoiled by low costs for so long that we have started acting as if low costs were our birthright, which explains why our government leaders have never been in any real hurry to do anything significant about our southern borders. Now, many spoiled, control-freak Americans are throwing temper tantrums over this issue, without thinking ahead. Careful; sometimes you WILL get what you ask for, only to end up wishing you’d just kept your greedy, selfish little mouth shut.

Surely someone has done a legitimate impact study of the volume and variety of the lowered costs we Americans enjoy on a daily basis due to our government’s playing the “indulgent uncle” on the issue of illegals from Mexico.

Conservative, but Not Crazy

Dear Gabacho: Oh, there are as many studies about the impact of undocumented folks on the economy as there are Mexicans who say their grandpa rode with Pancho Villa. Of course, almost all of those reports are biased bullshit, whether from the left (anything produced by Latino congressmen) or the right. (I’m looking at you, o hateful Federation for American Immigration Reform—was it someone from your crew or another of your Know Nothing ilk who, after a Vietnamese-American woman was tragically killed by a Mexican-American woman, wanted to know if the perp was an “illegal alien savage”?)

The only group hewing to the middle ground, alas, is the feds: They say that if we don’t legalize undocumented folks, we’ll lose $80 billion in unrealized gains by 2023; deficits will increase by $50 billion; and Social Security won’t get the $50 billion illegals could contribute if only they were legal. Of course, a Communist Kenyan runs the White House, so that report is also invalid.

So the truthful answer? What your humble Mexican says: #fuckthehaters.

Why are Mexicans so afraid of earthquakes? (George Lopez’s television show even based an episode around this topic.) Don’t you people know that here in the USA, we have something called “building standards” (unlike the adobe and Play-Doh used in Mexico for construction)? After the last big Northridge quake, you panochas were so afraid of being indoors that you made the local parks look like a Mexican-Woodstock!

Panocha Lover in Huntington Beach

Dear Gabacho: Pendejo, can we start with you using panocha (“pussy,” for those who don’t habla) as a slur? You had a great question that I won’t answer because of your stupidity. Anyone who uses the word as a synonym for cowardice obviously can’t get any. You want to call a Mexican a coward? Call him “Enrique Peña Nieto” or “Donald Trump”—or, better yet, “Panocho Lover in Huntington Beach.”


Gentle cabrones: Am excited to announce that Bordertown—the animated FOX show that’s like a Mexican second-cousin marriage of Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers and on which I served as consulting producer—will have its debut Jan. 3 at 9:30 p.m.! Make sure to watch live, DVR it—and please DO NOT pirate the show … until Season 4, at least. Tune in, and join the #televisionreconquista!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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Over the current television season? So are the broadcast networks—they’re moving on to the 2015-2016 season, and here’s some of what they’ll be serving up this fall and early next year:

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (The CW): The Atom, Captain Cold, Heatwave and various other characters previously seen on Arrow and The Flash team up in this sorta-spin-off, as well as The Heroine Formerly Known as Black Canary, White Canary, and “time-traveling rogue” Rip Hunter (!). Oh, you can stave off that superhero burnout until 2016.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW): A successful-but-lonely New York woman (Rachel Bloom) impulsively moves to California to pursue her ex in a musical-comedy originally produced for … Showtime? Remember: Jane the Virgin seemed like a bizarre idea once, too.

Supergirl (CBS): Speaking of superhero burnout and single gals in the big city, here’s Superman’s cousin, Kara (Melissa Benoist, Glee). The first trailer, while impressive, is far more The Devil Wears Prada than Daredevil, and strangely similar to Saturday Night Live’s fake Black Widow rom-com Marvel movie. But, she’s unrecognizable in glasses—classic.

Angel From Hell (CBS): Allison (Maggie Lawson, Psych) has a wacky new frenemy (Jane Lynch, Glee) who is either a bona fide guardian angel … or just insane. Which is it? Since single-camera, laugh-track-less comedies are COA (canceled on arrival) at CBS, you’ll probably never find out.

Scream Queens (Fox): Ryan Murphy’s comedic (but still dark) broadcast-friendly take on his American Horror Story series stars Emma Roberts (AHS: Freak Show) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween). A sorority-slasher series may seem like a stretch, but it’s still a more likely Fox hit than Murphy’s defunct Red Band Society: Kourageous Kancer Kids.

Bordertown (Fox): This “Mexifornia”-set cartoon from Family Guy writers/producers (as well as cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz and Ask a Mexican columnist/Independent contributor Gustavo Arellano) has been floating around for almost two years, and will finally premiere in 2016 … an election year. Pretty sneaky, Fox.

The Grinder (Fox): After his hit legal drama The Grinder is canceled, an actor (Rob Lowe) moves back home to Boise and joins forces with his unwilling brother (Fred Savage), a real lawyer, in the courtroom. And if the younger demographic likes this

Grandfathered (Fox): … They’ll love John Stamos as a suave bachelor-about-town whose swingin’ lifestyle gets record-scratched when he learns he has an adult son and a baby granddaughter. At least Stamos has Fuller House to fall back on.

Lucifer (Fox): The Devil (Tom Ellis, Rush) retires as “Lucifer Morningstar” and opens a Los Angeles nightclub, which of course leads to him working with the LAPD to solve the murder of a young pop star. Skeptical? Lucifer is based on a Vertigo comic-book series, and involves writers and directors from Californication, Sleepy Hollow and Underworld. Parents Television Council, you’re up!

Blindspot (NBC): The clues to unravel a vast international conspiracy lie within the tattoos of an unidentified woman found naked in a duffle bag in Times Square. Damn, those Suicide Girls will do anything for attention.

Heartbreaker (NBC): Melissa George (The Slap) stars as a heart surgeon (get it?) who’s as annoyingly feisty as she is brilliant and stubborn … or as brilliantly annoying as she is stubbornly feisty … or something.

People Are Talking (NBC): Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin and Bash) and Tone Bell (Bad Judge) play buds who “analyze and obsess about everything.” This is one of two whole comedies airing this fall on NBC—analyze and obsess about that.

Oil (ABC): It’s Dallas … in North Dakota! With Don Johnson as the designated local oil tycoon/villain! Lucifer doesn’t sound so ridiculous now, huh?

Uncle Buck (ABC): America has rejected a TV version of the beloved 1989 movie once before—but this one has an all-black cast, so ABC at least deserves some credit for further chipping away at the tube’s Whiteytown. Uncle Buck, however, is gonna suuuck.

The Muppets (ABC): Imagine The Office as a behind-the-scenes docu-com at The Muppet Show. Yeah, I can’t believe that pitch worked, either.

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Dear Mexican: I have a question for you about los mexicanos and the Transportation Security Administration, the most hated, useless government agency.

I’ve heard that the TSA does illegal Immigration and Customs Enforcement dragnets at airports to catch illegal aliens. My problem with the TSA is that I get pulled aside for “special screening” every single time that I fly. It is infuriating.

Does getting targeted by the TSA happen to you or other mexicanos? How can I stop this TSA harassment from happening, short of wearing a gabacha wig to try to “look more American”? It’s humiliating to get treated like that by the asshole TSA agents, and it pisses me off that they are abusing their power to target mexicanos.

C’mon, TSA: Your job is to protect travelers of all nationalities, not to do unlawful dragnets to target immigrants. Am I getting searched every single time for other reasons, and NOT really being wrongly racially profiled by clueless TSA agents?

Too Spic-ish Asshole

Dear TSA: While I’m more than happy to decry anti-Mexican harassment at the drop of a sombrero, let’s remember that the TSA chinga a ALL passengers: I’ve seem them pull aside gabacha grannies in wheelchairs and tow-headed toddlers. Besides, racial profiling at airports was going on long before Sept. 11: Per a 2002 report by the ACLU, “A General Accounting Office study revealed that approximately 67 percent of the passengers subjected to personal searches upon entering the United States were people of color. Black and Latino Americans were four to nine times as likely as white Americans to be X-rayed after being frisked or patted down.”

The TSA is about as effective as migra, and nowhere near as loveable.

Why is it that when Mexican families get together for any reason, it always turns into an impromptu talent show? We berate little kids until they break down and “sing that song or do that dance you do, andale! Si no, te va llevar el viejillo señor. Aver, señor, venga por mi hija que no quiere cantar.”

Do all families do this, or is it just a Mexican thing? Maybe we’re trying to re-create Sábado Gigante at home.

Buscando las Estrellas con Don Francisco

Dear Mexican Star Search: Remember that Simpsons episode in which Grandpa Simpson makes Bart and Lisa sing the Armour Hot Dogs to amuse Marge’s mami? Don’t forget that Los Simpsones remains the most Mexican show to ever appear on network television, making The George Lopez Show seem as raza as Duck Dynasty.

Speaking of historical Fox animated programs—The Mexican is thrilled to announce his 2014 project: Bordertown, scheduled to debut this fall! The show (with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane as one of the producers, and Chicano legend Lalo Alcaraz as one of FIVE Latinos on the writing staff—if you include the Jewish guy from Miami, that’s six!) will deal with the world’s worst border patrol agent, Bud Buchwald, and his chingón Mexican neighbor, Ernesto Gonzales.

I’m only a part-timer, a consultant who’s mostly going to be offering notes, but I’ve already seen scripts—amazing, hilarious and spot-on about what it means to be Mexican in America right now: the pochos, the immigrants, the nerds and narcos. SB 1070 and Zacatecas. Hispandering and the military-industrial complex. Pozole and “El Son de los Aguacates.” The writers’ room is a perfect mix of young guns and vets from legendary shows (South Park, The Simpsons, Mr. Show, The Daily Show, Futurama and the Family Guy empire, among others), all knowing full well that they’re writing a pioneering program—and that it has to be pinche funny, or no one will care.

Stay tuned for developments in this columna, and start telling your 486 cousins to start spreading the word NOW!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or ask him a video question at!

Published in Ask a Mexican