Today, taco journalist Mando Rayo of The United Tacos of America joined the taco crew to speak about his journeys into Mexican foodways across the country.
Today, he shared an episode of The United States of Tacos focusing on the Rio Grande Valley. Mando and his partner Jarod Neece (seen below, in action with Mando) learned about cabrito, barbacoa traditions in the valley, and also served up some tacos to asylum seekers with volunteers in the community. The episode drove home the theme of people and stories told through food, as we learned about the rich tradition of ranching and husbandry, in the place where fajitas originated, as well as what would be called “breakfast tacos” in San Antonio and Austin, but which are simply called “breakfast” in this part of the Texas’s southernmost tip.
We were already familiar with The Tacos of Texas, as students had watched this episode about the Valley.
Before Mando arrived to chat with us, several of the students and I spoke about barbacoa traditions, and we also had some questions about when barbacoa goes bad–which Mando answered at the end of the chat. As Mando spoke about the importance of community in his vision of foodways, he also related his appreciation of the people, families, histories, and cultural significance of food through stories. That part, about stories, had resonance for students, especially as we heard about Mando’s story, his journey from community activist to activist using tacos as the vehicle of change.
I could tell the students enjoyed hearing from Mando, as he has a way with relating to students and using humor to build confianza in the audiences he addresses.
That was two guests this week for taco literacy, both badass guests, and I’m glad that even with the strange situation of schooling this semester, we’re still trying, still learning, still breaking tortillas, well, digitally.
Here’s the video record, of me, mostly, but with the audio from today’s class.