In 1943 Ignacio Anaya was working as the maître d’ at the Victory Club, in Piedras Negras—across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass—when a gaggle of officers’ wives from nearby Fort Duncan strolled into the place. With no chef in sight, the 49-year-old Anaya dashed to the kitchen, ingeniously piling tostadas with Wisconsin cheese, heating his creation under the broiler, and capping it with sliced jalapeños. The ladies raved, dubbing the snack Nacho’s Especiales—”Nacho” being the nickname for Ignacio—and a Texas icon was born. Since then, the nacho has been reinvented a billion times over, making appearances everywhere from ballparks to the finest restaurants. Piedras Negras honors the spicy hors d’oeuvre each year with a festival and competition (this year’s is October 15 - 17; for more information, go to eaglepasstexas.com or call 888-355-3224). For an unusual and classy recipe, try our smoked-salmon version, adapted from Boudro’s, in San Antonio.
10 - 12 ounces cream cheese
1⁄2 Bermuda onion, finely chopped
2⁄3 tablespoons capers
1⁄2 cup flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
3 serrano chiles, roasted and finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 dozen or more restaurant-style tortilla chips or tostadas
12 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
Mix first 8 ingredients, spread on chips, and top with pieces of salmon.