While you will find no greater apologist for the American love affair with Mexican food, even I have my limits. While I understand language is a fluid thing, with the same viscosity as a big ol' bowl of queso, sometimes Americans go too far. While I understand gabachos don't speak Spanish as a first language, and the American tendency is to butcher foreign tongues, the following manglings, elisions or outright appropriation of popular Mexican dishes is downright revolting. Let the horror show begin…
5. “Torts” for Tortillas
I do believe this term was more prevalent in ye olden day, as I rarely hear it anymore, and I understand why it originated: people didn't know how to pronounce the double-l sound in habla, so decided to chop off that inconvenience rather than sound the fool. Of course, shortening the word to a judicial term is not only pendejo, but has led to far too many horrible puns demanding “tort” reform–get it? Tort? Tortillas? AHAHAHAHAHAHA…oy vey.
4. “Guac” for Guacamole
Another nickname that originated because gabachos couldn't pronounce the term, leading to all sorts of hilarious misspellings over the years. Unlike “torts,” however, “guac” is a term that doesn't seem to be leaving us anytime soon–but at least it makes some type of sense, despite the fact that the sole syllable by itself is thisclose to guácatela, the Mexican Spanish term for disgust.
3. “'Dilla” for Quesadilla
This is one I would've never believed could've possibly existed until I went to a restaurant in Missouri and overheard someone ask for a 'dilla. J-Dilla? Godzilla? Roc-a-fella? Really–'dilla for a quesadilla? Really. Again, I attribute this nickname to the gabacho refusal to learn how to pronounce the double-l–but, unlike “torts,” it seems that gabachos now revel in their inability to bother to learn how to say that which they so love to devour.
2. "Street Tacos” for Tacos
I wrote about my hatred of the term "street taco” back in 2010, and most of what I said still applies. You know the term is pathetic when fast-food chains try to attract the hipster idiots who popularized the term by boasting they sell "street tacos,” which they view as revolutionary because it's not the hard-shell tacos that the parts of America matter dropped 30 years ago.
1. "Roach Coach” for Taco Trucks
But while the above are just linguistic cartwheels, the term "roach coach” is downright racist–and absolutely wrong. Scaredy-cat gabachos created this term in the 1980s in an effort to demonize the burgeoning industry, drawing on a century of Mexican food stereotypes deeming the cuisine unhealthy and unsanitary in order to pass municipal codes against them. Those same pendejos also created the term "gourmet food trucks” to differentiate the new wave of luxe loncheras from the pioneers and justify the lifting of said regulations. But here's the dirty little secret: at the end of the day (at least in California, if not the United States), roach coaches and luxe loncheras are subject to the same regulations and inspections, and must park in the same commissaries every night. Calling loncheras "roach coaches” betrays American ignorance, laziness, and bigotry–and again, just plain wrong.
But now that I think of it, even "roach coach” is better than 'dillas. GUACATELA!