Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food

By Jeffrey M. Pilcher | Go to book overview

PREFACE

What is authentic Mexican food? Surveys show that Mexican is one of the top three ethnic foods in the United States, along with Chinese and Italian. But just as chop suey and pepperoni pizza are not typical of the foods of China and Italy, few people in Mexico actually eat the burritos (made with wheat flour tortillas) and taco shells (prefried corn tortillas) that often pass for Mexican cooking in the United States. Although there are growing numbers of cookbooks and websites, celebrity chefs and migrant restaurants all claiming to offer “authentic” Mexican, as opposed to Americanized food, when traveling across the country—or around the world—burritos and taco shells still predominate.

The global presence of Americanized tacos has provoked outrage from many Mexicans, who take patriotic pride in their national cuisine. But beyond a common distaste for “gloopy” North American versions, there is surprisingly little consensus about what is properly Mexican, even in Mexico. Every region and virtually every town has its own distinct specialties, which are regarded with deep affection by residents. Indeed, the first attempt to write a national history of Mexican food, Salvador Novo’s Cocina mexicana, o historia gastronomica de la Ciudad de México (Mexican Cuisine, or Gastronomic History of the City of Mexico, 1967), asserted boldly that the foods of the capital constituted the national cuisine.1 Mexican diets vary widely by ethnic group and social class as well as by region, and more critical histories, including one of my own,

-xiii-

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Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction - A Tale of Two Tacos 1
  • Part I - Proto-Tacos 19
  • Chapter 1 - Maize and the Making of Mexico 21
  • Chapter 2 - Burritos in the Borderlands 46
  • Part II - National Tacos 77
  • Chapter 3 - From the Pastry War to Parisian Mole 79
  • Chapter 4 - The Rise and Fall of the Chili Queens 105
  • Chapter 5 - Inventing the Mexican American Taco 130
  • Part III - Global Tacos 161
  • Chapter 6 - The First Wave of Global Mexican 163
  • Chapter 7 - The Blue Corn Bonanza 189
  • Conclusion - The Battle of the Taco Trucks 221
  • Notes 233
  • Glossary 263
  • Select Bibliography 268
  • Index 283
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