LIFESTYLE

Border Faceoff: Who's Got the Biggest Enchilada?

La enchilada más grande del mundo, un platillo tradicional mexicano, se extiende a lo largo de una avenida en la localidad de Iztapalapa, un suburbio de la Ciudad de México, el domingo 17 de octubre del 2010. (AP foto/Marco Ugarte)

La enchilada más grande del mundo, un platillo tradicional mexicano, se extiende a lo largo de una avenida en la localidad de Iztapalapa, un suburbio de la Ciudad de México, el domingo 17 de octubre del 2010. (AP foto/Marco Ugarte)

It’s the phone call every Guinness record-holder dreads, and for Robert Estrada, it came Sunday, Oct. 17.

"You lost the world record," a friend rang to say. That day, the residents of Iztapalapa, a Mexico City borough, had cooked their way into the records book with a 230-foot long enchilada, topping Estrada's previous 2000 record.

But judging by a story by the Las Cruces Sun News which was later picked up by The Associated Press, Estrada believes his home of Las Cruces, N.M. is still a record-holder: His certificate names him the creator of the world's largest, flat, three-layeredenchilada. Mexico City's version was rolled.

"It's not the same category that I'm in," said Estrada. "It's different."

Estrada told Fox News Latino he's been trying to reach Guinness for a week in order to get clarification.

In an email with Fox News Latino, a Guinness World Records spokesperson was crystal clear. "We do not have separate categories for different types of enchiladas," she wrote.

Estrada's enchilada, which he recreates each year, is about 10.5 feet in diameter and takes 750 pounds of corn, 175 pounds of grated cheese, 50 pounds of chopped onions and 75 gallons of red chile sauce. The same ingredients that, in smaller quantities, Estrada uses daily at his restaurant, Roberto's.

The giganto-chilada can feed up 5,000 people and does so annually, as the centerpiece of the three-day The Whole Enchilada Fiesta, which celebrated its 13th anniversary in September.
Las Cruces resident Barbara Marta said that in southern New Mexico, where Las Cruces is located, the flat enchilada is preferred. Rolled enchiladas are more common in Mexico and northern New Mexico.

"And of course, the taste of the chile—there's no comparison," she said.

In October 2000, when Estrada set out to establish the record, there was a lengthy documentation process. All the ingredients were weighed; senators, the mayor, law enforcement and U.S. representatives acted as witnesses, and the event was video taped and photographed extensively, he said. The enchilada was even measured by satellite, which sized the its circumference at 33.89 feet. 

It's achievement was a point of pride, said Christine Rogel, a Las Cruces Sun-News reporter who interviewed Estrada for the story. "This is something that has been part of the community for so long."

Estrada has long been leery of losing his crown. He said he's heard whisperings of spies looking to uncover his process during this year's fiesta.

"There were a lot of people there that told me there were some people from Mexico using video camera equipment and taping us while they were making it," Estrada said. He also received reports of camera crews from Mesa, Ariz.

But folks looking to steal his secrets might want to save the effort.

"At one point Robert Estrada was the record holder for largest enchilada," the Guinness spokesperson wrote. "But since then our guidelines have changed, and we now only accept the tradition rolled enchilada for this category."

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.