Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food

By Jeffrey M. Pilcher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
THE BLUE CORN BONANZA

Mexican food began to achieve a global presence in the 1980s primarily because it had become so fashionable in the United States. Taco shells and burritos expanded beyond their Southwestern origins to become truly national as fast-food taco chains and full-service restaurants entered regions where they had once been rare, including parts of the Midwest, the South, and even the Northeast. Corona beer also took the country by storm in the mid-1980s, making Cinco de Mayo into a south-of-theborder St. Patrick’s Day. Meanwhile, Good Housekeeping magazine brought this fad home with recipes and advertisements for a “tasty taco supper” and Spam enchiladas.1 Tex-Mex fajitas became wildly popular, and in 1991, salsa surpassed catsup as the best-selling condiment in the country. Upscale versions of this pop culture phenomenon also appeared in the “New Southwestern” cuisine, a gourmet movement created by classically trained chefs in Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Dallas, who presented the street foods of the chili queens as trendy fine dining: lobster tacos, caviar on blue corn tortillas, and sea-bass mousse tamales. In 1987, the food writer M. F. K. Fisher groaned: “If I hear any more about chic Tex-Mex or blue cornmeal, I’ll throw up.”2 Despite her protests, a blue corn bonanza was waiting for businessmen if they could sell burritos, taco shells, and fajitas around the world under the name of Mexican food.

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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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