Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tortillas and Salsa

More inspiration from Gustavo Arellano's TACO USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America (New York: Scribner, 2012): charting the relative spread of the tortilla and salsa in the lexicon of published books.

"The tortilla is the essence of Mexico, what unites the country from Tijuana to the jungles of Chiapas to outer space [where they've been prepared by Mexican American astronauts José Hernández and Danny Olivas, for instance], even if geography stretches it or condenses it, fries them or rolls them or -- shudder -- puts them in cans . . . Without the tortilla we have no taco, no burrito, no enchilada, no nachos or tortilla chip . . . or . . . quesadillas. In short, with no tortilla, there is no Mexico. There is nothing" (page 197).

In the above Ngram for Anglo-American English language texts ranging from 1950 to ca. 2010, blue stands for tortilla and red, salsa. Salsa -- a word that doubles as a type of dance, thus complicating precision of usage here -- overtakes tortilla in 1989/1990.  

In Spanish books, the use of the word salsa has been ascendant since 1952 -- a nearly forty-year jump on Anglo adaptation. 

Today's Rune: Signals.  

1 comment:

jodi said...

Erik, Mexican food sometimes takes over my life! About every two weeks, I powerfully crave it. What do they put in that stuff?