A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 30, 2006

Fajitas became popular in Texas in the 1970s. I helped find the OED’s two earliest entries.
“Chicken fajitas” have sparked a debate among word purists who insist that the chicken has no “fajita” or “skirt.”
(Oxford English Dictionary)
fajita, n.
[< American Spanish fajita, lit. ‘small strip’ (1940s or earlier denoting the diaphragm muscle of a steer, with reference to its belt-like shape, subsequently also applied to other (orig. cheap) cuts of meat) < Spanish faja belt, strip, sash (end of the 15th cent.; < classical Latin fascia, FASCIA n.) + ita diminutive suffix (see -ET1).]
A grilled strip of marinated steak. Usu. in pl.: a dish originating in Mexico or the southern United States, consisting of strips of such meat served with a variety of garnishes or sauces in a soft flour tortilla. Later also more generally: any dish (esp. of chicken) served in this manner.
1971 S. HUDDLESTON Tex-Mex Cookbk. 29 After fajitas have been marinated they may be grilled. If barbecued, heat should be low so meat doesn’t dry out. 1976 Rio Grande Valley (Texas) Phone Directory 367/2 Old Mexico Restaurant home of the authentic Chile Relleno & Tampiquena Steaks ‘serving Cafeteria style’ with real homemade flour Tortillas our menu includes: Char-broiled Fajitas..[etc.].
3 April 1969, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 8 ad:
BEEF SKIRTS lb. ... 79c
8 July 1971, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 16 ad:
$1.05 LB.
Tex-Mex Cookbook
by Sam Huddleston, part owner of Texas
Pg. 29:
Until you visit Leonardo’s Fiesta Restaurant in Brownsville you have led a cloistered life. This likeable caballero’s humor will lay you on the floor. Texas literary dudes like Dick Hitt, Frank Tolbert, Leon Hale and Richard West have yodeled praises about Leonardo’s colorful place. Noriega*, a bon vivant, gourmet and traveler, recommends this restaurant as a good place to ward off malnutrition.
Leonardo’s fajitas are succulent enough to get one spastic with jubilation. Fajitas are the solid lean meat from beef skirts. If you can’t get beef skirts, use a similar type of lean beef. They should be cut into small strips and marinated overnight.  Leonardo suggests any good commercial marinate, but warns that one shouldn’t use more than one-fourth of the amount called for in most instructions.
After fajitas have been marinated they may be grilled.  If barbecued, heat should be low so meat doesn’t dry out.
Pg. 30:
This is a do-it-yourself procedure. When fajitas are cooked cut into small slices.  Hold a fresh tortilla in hand and fill with meat and Alice Taylor’s Pica de Gallo. Perfect compliments for this divine composition are frijoles and Spanish rice.

This inexpensive dish won’t paralyze your food budget.  fed these heavenly viands to a friend of ours. They made him feel so much a man he borrowed my pliars and pulled three of his own teeth.
*Noriega is Leonardo’s last name.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Sunday, July 30, 2006 • Permalink

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