Chimichangas fit nicely into the Mexican culinary tradition and are a staple of Mexican restaurants everywhere. But are they actually a Mexican dish? In a way, yes. A chimichanga is basically just a fried burrito and uses ingredients that you find in many other Mexican dishes. However, to call something Mexican, it technically has to come from Mexico. So who made the first chimichanga and, more importantly, where?
Let’s take a look at closer look at this favorite of Mexican restaurants to determine how Mexican they really are.
A Delicious Accident
As with many dishes, we’re not exactly sure who first made chimichangas, and there are multiple stories that explain their origins. Most, however, do agree on one point: the first chimichanga was made by accident. There is one version of the story that has a bit more detail than the others, so that’s the one we’ll tell you today.
In the 1920s, there was a restaurant in Tuscon, Arizona, called El Charo Café, founded by Monica Flin. Once while making a burrito for a customer, she was distracted by something and accidentally dropped the burrito in the fryer. To keep herself from saying something rude that customers might overhear, she exclaimed chimichanga! Luckily, fried burritos are delicious, and the name “chimichanga” stuck.
Does the Name Mean Anything?
Another question surrounding chimichangas is whether or not the name has any meaning. Some people will tell you that chimichanga is a nonsense word in Spanish, similar to “thingamajig” in English. But despite the chimichanga’s possibly accidental origins, there is some reason to believe the choice of its name was deliberate. The first part of the word, chimi, could be related to the Spanish word chamuscado, which means “singed” or “seared.” The second part, changa, sounds a lot like chinga, which is a form of the rude word Monica Flin stopped herself from saying out loud. So it could be that there was some thought put into the name, or maybe people have tried to reverse-engineer an etymology based on its origin story. There’s really no way to know.
Experience the best of Mexican restaurants in Derry, NH!
Whether or not we know who first made a chimichanga, we definitely know they are delicious. There’s a reason why this possibly-Mexican-possibly-Tex-Mex dish has remained popular at Mexican restaurants everywhere. But you don’t have to take our word for it, come visit Los Reyes Street Tacos in Derry, NH, to give ours a try!