I had dinner at a trendy new Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles (Malo in Silverlake) last night. They serve sort of "upscale" Mexican food, with regional varieties of sauces and preparations. One feature of the menu is that everything comes a la carte, and you have a choice of 4 different salsas with your chips. Well, we ordered the chips and salsa (got a habanero cream "salsa" and a chipotle chile salsa), and when the chips came, they clearly had been freshly fried -- promising, I thought, until I bit into one. Well, to my taste, it was not crisp enough -- still a little chewy, not fully done. When I inquired of the waitress, she said that was the way they served them, "al dente." I've never been served anything like it in any of the more authentic Mexican places around L.A. Is this simply a silly innovation, or is there such a thing in real Mexican cuisine?
Btw, I've posted my review of Malo on the LA board, if you are interested.