Top

dining

Stories

 

One Nation, Under Tacos

An excerpt from 'Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America'

What's so cosmic about a burrito? Everything. It says something about us that Taco Bell makes billions of dollars in sales each year, that Koreans in this country are making millions of dollars by stuffing barbecue into tortillas and selling them from fancy food trucks—and it's a good thing. Anyone who dismisses this reality as not indicative of something seismic in the American story is more deluded than someone who thinks refried beans are actually fried twice. It has been conquest by a thousand tacos, a million tamales and a hell of a lot of salsa, which surpassed ketchup as America's top-selling condiment back in the 1990s and only continues to grow. Through interviews and archival material, via chronological and thematic chapters, and never ever losing focus that we are, after all, talking about food, behold the story of the best cuisine on Earth, one now set on taking over the world. The U.S. is on the losing side of this Mexican-American War—and boy, are we grateful.

One final point: My book is not about the history of Mexican food in Mexico. Mexican cookery is as multifaceted as its American cousin, if not more so, with each state offering unique culinary practices slowly trickling into our country, as I mentioned earlier. But those who dismiss Taco Bell, the taco pizza, even a church enchilada booth as somehow not Mexican because Mexicans aren't the main consumers or creators miss a huge point. We must consider the infinite varieties of Mexican food in the United States as part of the Mexican family—not a fraud, not a lesser sibling, but an equal.

As I've driven and flown around the country and come across a mild salsa, a mutated muchaco (a ground-beef taco served in a pita bread by the Midwestern Taco Bueno chain) and other items I immediately wanted to decry, I've remembered the concept of what the legendary Chicano scholar Américo Paredes deemed Greater Mexico: that the influence of Mexico doesn't cease at the Rio Grande. Wherever there is something even minutely Mexican, whether it's people, food, language or rituals, even centuries removed from the original mestizo source, it remains Mexican.

Mariano Martinez invented the frozen margarita machine at his Dallas restaurant during the early 1970s. The machine pictured is now part of the Smithsonian's collection
Mariano Martinez invented the frozen margarita machine at his Dallas restaurant during the early 1970s. The machine pictured is now part of the Smithsonian's collection

Location Info

Map

Fullerton Public Library

353 W. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Libraries

Region: Fullerton

Details

Gustavo Arellano will sign copies of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America at the Fullerton Public Library. April 12, 7 p.m. Lecture, free; books, BARATO!

FOR MORE FROM GUSTAVO'S BOOK, CLICK HERE.



Check out a bunch of pictures of Mexican food here. Sabroso!

Related Stories

More About

Even in outer space.

 

Excerpted from Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano; Scribner;books.simonandschuster.com/buy/Taco-USA/9781439148617/from-other-retailers#book_retailers. Hardcover, 320 pages, $24.95. Available April 10 at your finer bookstores, online retailers and swap meets selling pirated goods everywhere. 


This article appeared in print as "One Nation, Under Tacos: How Mexican Food Conquered America."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

My dad was the shuttle pilot on two missions, STS-39, STS-64.  I will have to ask him about tortillas. 

Lonhall
Lonhall

flour tortillas?!! q comida pocha!! Fijese!! Tortillas=mais!!

Peanut
Peanut

Americans, as oppose to others, are not the greatest cooks in the world (sorry... I love Americans for other qualities..) . So naturally they adopted the Mexican food that is easy to make for the most part

Good articles on www.ariespost.com

Nationwide Strip
Nationwide Strip

Okay, I love Breakfast Burritos, that one was kinda weak. No peppers,potato's, NASA huck them guys and girls up with some real food.

SugeAveryLemonade
SugeAveryLemonade

If I was on a space station, I would request tacos, gumbo, kimchee and Indian curried rice!! This was a very entertaining story! Could you possibly do a running story on foods in space and innovations concerning them. It would be an "out of this world" installment! :)

Bill
Bill

Still flogging this? Put some chichis on the cover and maybe it'll sell. Otherwise, a day late and a quetzal short. saludos

Doug
Doug

As usual, very interesting article Gustavo.

For Rob, I was stationed at Camp Zama, Japan near Tokyo and the Pancho Villa Mexican place in the suburb of Sagamihara was good. http://www.japanbases.com/buya...

Mike's Mexican restaurant, also in Sagamihara, has good reviews on Trip Advisor, though I haven't been there. http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Rest...

So, while Mexican food hasn't conquered Japan there are a couple of good options.

Helliemae's Caramels
Helliemae's Caramels

Houston girl says: if you're gonna be taking fresh flour tortillas into space, Houston is a great town to be buying them in.

Rob
Rob

A couple of stories for you, Gustavo:

One of my Japanese friends, when she makes a trip to SoCal, always asks me to take her to a good Mexican food place because, as much as I love Japan and the cuisine there, you can't get good Mexican food there. The only hispanics I ran into when I was living there, in fact, were Peruvians (thought there is a big population of Brazilians in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture). I don't remember any Peruvian restaurants there, though that may have changed by now.

Also, in addition to Japan, I've lived in South Korea. The food there is kick ass, but still, I was jonesing pretty hard for Mexican when I was there. I lived in a city of a million people there and not one Mexican eatery. Koreans make a damn good pizza, though, which they often liberally sprinkle tabasco sauce on.

Lonhall
Lonhall

ooops! tortillas=masa!!

Dtakeda
Dtakeda

but the shuttles launch from Florida.... or they used to.

Dtakeda
Dtakeda

Usually referred to as "mild."

 
Loading...