Working With Sources (PIE Cooked with Masa)

First, we found some quotes from Arellano’s Taco USA that are significant for . . . well maybe we don’t know yet, bet we have a feeling. We have a few of these places we highlighted in our book (not our library book of course). We found quotes like these:

1. Regarding the 1965 Immigration Reform Act

“The 1965 Immigration Reform Act unleashed a historic wave that brought in Mexicans from all across Mexico—but whereas the early immigration of Mexicans to the United States arrived mostly from the northern and central states (reflected in the kind of Mexican food that first spread across their new homeland), the latest exodus has introduced foods from every corner of the Empire of the Sun, from Sinaloa to the Yucatán and Mexico City’s many interpretations of masa” (157).

2. sacred tortilla: “the humble disc”

“This humble disc, whether made from corn or flour or wheat or even New Age spinach, transmits heritage, race, class, and beauty within its circular border with each filling bite, with each crisped fleck. The tortilla is the essence of Mexico, what unites the country from Tijuana to the jungles of Chiapas to outer space, even if geography stretches or condenses it, fries them or tolls them or–shudders–puts them into cans, as previously discussed. Without the tortilla we have no taco, no burrito, no enchiladas, no nachos or tortilla chips stranglehold on our sports viewing, no transmission of essential nutrients, no way for the poor to stretch out a meal by sprinkling salt on one and calling it a lunch, or cook gooey, slightly burned quesadillas. In short, with no tortilla, there is no Mexico. There is no nothing.” (197).

3. Glen Bell learning the secrets of the Mitla Cafe

 

“The menu [at Mitla Cafe] has been almost unchanged since opening, a snapshot of a previous time–chile rellenos, enchiladas, chile verde and pork, a dish called the Gloria, after a longtime server: two tortillas wrapped around juicy chicken chunks, bathed in a light salsa, then placed on a top of baked cheese, a sort of backward enchilada. But the best sellers at Mitla are their hard-shelled tacos, fried upon order, bursting with ground meat, hiding under a blizzard of shredded cheese. It’s a refreshing take on the meal, light-years away from the prefabricated mess America has worshipped for nearly two generations–and it’s the taco Glen Bell ‘adopted.’ It’s the taco Bell ate again and again, trying to decipher its mystery before returning to Bell’s Burgers across the street to replicate” (69).

Some important quotes, any of them could be solid sources for body paragraphs. Each has qualities of the prose that are rich in description (pay attention to his verbs!), but also move with a distinct tone that roves across history and restaurants with ease.

Taking any of these, divided among groups, looking for some ways of explaining the quotes, and also looking deeper for meaning. The first quote, for example:

“The 1965 Immigration Reform Act unleashed a historic wave that brought in Mexicans from all across Mexico—but whereas the early immigration of Mexicans to the United States arrived mostly from the northern and central states (reflected in the kind of Mexican food that first spread across their new homeland), the latest exodus has introduced foods from every corner of the Empire of the Sun, from Sinaloa to the Yucatán and Mexico City’s many interpretations of masa” (157).

Here are some initial thoughts:

–1965: 50+/- years ago; Civil Rights era, “immigrant reform”: “amnesty”?

–“wave” of migrants: metaphor for flood? Dehumanizing rhetoric? Not use of animal, but nature?

–migrants from “across Mexico”: before 1965, Mexican folks from northern and central states, closer to the border with USA. After 1965, from all across Mexico, from diverse states further south. Also, new patterns of migration.

–different kinds of Mexican food in the USA, “many interpretations of masa”

With all those thoughts, we have some explanation sentences taking shape. These are some “masa” we’re working with to make some PIE, that is, Point, Information, and Explanation paragraphs.

Point

Information

Explanation

So far, you have the I and some of the E. The “I” is the stuff you quote. What we did together was look closer at the words and piece some meaning together, working on the E part. We have some more work on this, but the first steps are to get some ideas down about ways to read what you found quoted in the text . . . you can agree, you debate, you can question . . . any number of ways to engage with what you quote, and certainly no wrong way . . .

 

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