Finishing Up Taco USA, Tacos Arabes, Trompos, and “Feeling Real”

Today we had some guests, some cameras, some mics, and plenty of discussion. Yes, plenty of that. There will be more about this visit in the future, probably in the summer. Stay tuned!

Today was our last discussion about Taco USA. There was much to say, which is a good sign, because this is a fundamental book to get us thinking about Mexican foodways history in the USA, and setting us up for the next book, Planet Taco.

Elizabeth led things off with Arellano’s history of tequila. Rightfully so, there’s was much to take in, from the history of the Cuervo family, to the later Texas contributions for frozen margaritas. The distillation process for the blue agave of tequila is very interesting, as is the primo of tequila, mezcal, and the older tio pulque. For more about this beverage, and how it’s becoming a popular drink for younger folks in Mexico City, here’s a cool video.

Kosi mentioned something interesting about “authenticity” today, which I think makes a lot of sense. Kosi said that for her, authenticity is a “real feeling” which I think is quite profound. Yes, a feeling, or one’s legitimate feeling, and how that opens a lot up to a kind of self searching rather than looking for “authentic” foods. That is, authenticity is a subjective experience. This makes sense as when Alexis mentioned that Chipotle was something like this for her. And it’s true, sometimes foods make you feel good, maybe even “self care.” There’s much to think there, especially how foods some might consider an “abomination” such as certain varieties of Mexican food in the USA (things like nachos, queso, or maybe the Sonoran hotdog) have special feelings of authenticity to people. Another idea is that authenticity is not the right word for this feeling. And since it’s a feeling we’re speaking about, this would relate to emotion, or how I think about care and literacy.

Camera crew left, we kept going!

Next, we went back to tacos arabes, and focusing on the gente in Puebla. We also had some “trompo literacy.” For more of that, check out this video from Los Tacos No. 1 about their famous trompo, perhaps the best in NYC

Finally, as a group work today, we checked out a few websites.

https://www.tacobell.com/about-us

https://www.oldelpaso.com/

https://web.lib.utsa.edu/gebhardt/

https://www.kingtaco.com/

Taco Bell’s history was insightful. What we saw: a sanitized history that removed any mention of Mexico. Mexico was not mentioned at all in the Taco Bell history, not at all. So then maybe this gives us some pause now that we read Taco USA. Or, maybe it tells us why Arellano was motivated to write his book, recovering the history, the history that begins with people, their contributions, and giving them credit.

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