Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food

By Jeffrey M. Pilcher | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION
THE BATTLE OF THE TACO TRUCKS

In 2008, the city of Los Angeles declared war on Mexican mobile food carts. There had already been periodic sweeps of vendors in city parks, and officers had occasionally ordered taco trucks to move along. But with a new ordinance, passed on the eve of Cinco de Mayo, the city raised the penalty for loitering, defined as parking in one spot for more than thirty minutes, from a mere infraction to a misdemeanor punishable by fines and possible prison time. A diverse coalition of Angelinos rallied in support of the vendors, forming a website (saveourtacotrucks.org) and declaring that “carne asada is not a crime.” County officials responded that the trucks had become “a big quality of life issue.” This battle of the taco trucks, like campaigns against the chili queens and tamale pushcarts a century earlier, revealed diverse racial and communal fault lines in contemporary Los Angeles. Many Latinos already felt harassed by anti-immigrant campaigns such as the passage in 1994 of the draconian Proposition 187, which denied basic services to immigrants before it was repealed by court order. They considered this ordinance to be yet another form of discrimination against their livelihoods and culture. Nevertheless, some neighbors thought the trucks were a nuisance because of their late-night crowds and litter, while Mexican restaurateurs complained about unfair competition. Anglos were likewise split on the issue, with nativists applauding the crackdown and “chowhounds” defending their favorite vendors. Although a

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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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