Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gustavo Arellano's TACO USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America

And so a final push for Gustavo Arellano's TACO USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America (New York: Scribner, 2012). "Mexican curio, regional American treat, nationwide fad, complete assimilation: this is the course of Mexican food in the United States" (page 269). Arellano provides an entertaining and driving account of his subject within the context of cultural and business history. You might see some of the same kinds of trends for specific food delivery systems like hot dogs and hamburgers, pizzas and pastas, but not necessarily for as comprehensive a "national" cuisine as here. Regardless, everything is definitely connected one way or another -- through individual efforts and vast market forces, technological change and demographic shifts.

In 2012, we have food trucks selling Mexican cuisine, just as many decades (or in some cases, centuries) ago men sold tamales from carts and "chile queens" reigned over parts of San Antonio, Texas. The former soft tortilla taco was, mostly in the twentieth century, morphed for mass production into a hard shell taco, and now early in the twenty-first it has joyously returned as the "street taco." Fast food chains have for fifty or more years churned out Mexican food just like burger-and-fries (and hot dog) joints, or like Sonic, which does both, including a line of all-day breakfast burritos embedded with potato "tots."

Supermarkets, grocery chains, specialty stores, bars, booze distributors, online sellers -- all have expanded the market for Mexican and various other types of food. It's all astonishing, part of the vital trail of history long and near. ¡Buen apetito!

Today's Rune: Joy.

1 comment:

t said...

that's it - street taco. wow, miss that. love guacamole.