Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food

By Jeffrey M. Pilcher | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
A TALE OF TWO TACOS

As a historian of Mexican food, I have eaten my fair share of tacos. In Mexico City, I am always on the lookout for tacos al pastor, slices of pork from a vertical rotisserie served on small corn tortillas with bits of pineapple and guajillo chile salsa. Sitting on the beaches of Cancún, I have tasted sublime fish tacos with succulent white flesh, delicately fried batter, and a splash of lime and pico de gallo. At home in Minneapolis, while shopping at the Mercado Central on Lake Street, I often grab some tacos de barbacoa, shreds of tender meat enlivened by a fresh tomatillo salsa. But feeling that I had not truly experienced carne asada, the grilled beef that is the centerpiece of norteño (northern) cuisine, I recently traveled to Hermosillo, 250 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, in the heart of Sonora’s cattle country. Getting there was no easy task, for although it is a state capital, it is poorly served even by Mexican airlines. Once I arrived, however, I had no trouble enlisting a local guide for the city’s fine dining.

Miguel Angel Rascón is a librarian at the Colegio de Sonora, Hermosillo’s elite postgraduate institution, but his real love is teaching cooking classes to neighborhood children, including his young son, Miguelito. When he offered to take me to the best tacos in town, he started at a Chinese restaurant. That may sound strange, but chop suey has been a local favorite since the late nineteenth century, when it was brought by Asian migrants, who were headed for the

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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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