Sorry for the late notes this round–directly after class I caught a plane to Kansas City for the Conference on College Composition and Communication, also called the 4Cs. I’ll be presenting on Taco Literacy there, so know that folks from around the country are interested about what we are doing in class. Because tacos.
We did some close readings over passages in Planet Taco. Much of what we looked at is how racial relations emerged historically in Mexico, and how these became tied to culinary traditions. The largest divide Pilcher examines is how the culinary traditions of Mexico emerge from the south and north. We examined further how he argues how “national cuisine has been used for ideological purposes” in Mexico (xiv). This really got us to think about ideology, what this means, and how food can become symbolic of larger social struggles. For the purposes of this book, and for our class, we examined the ideological uses of corn and wheat. We returned how these grains became symbolic of different strands of Mexican culture, toward the north near the United States, wheat became a staple crop, while in the south corn remained the crop staple. With that, we also noted how wheat became a crop that symbolized “progress,” or even “humanity,” at least from the European ideology of supremacy.
I must say, I was quite impressed with all the students pulling quotes to read from Planet Taco and making connections to what we read in Taco USA, and even bringing this back to aspects about people, how food can connect people, and how food can exclude people. So much of whom we are is what we eat, and how we eat what we eat. Good job, taco crew!
Last thing, here are a couple videos of Profe Pilcher giving talks about foodways. Enjoy!