How to Obtain True Taco Literacy

The American taco is an extension of Mexican cuisine. This axiom is at the center of Jose R. Ralat’s American Taco. Specifically, in the introduction, Ralat resolves the question of authenticity, once and for all, “Everyone’s abuelita – Spanish for “Little grandmother” and angle code for “authentic Mexican cook” – prepared real Mexican food. It’s true. It isn’t true. Authenticity only exists on paper” (11). We as a culture believe that if a type of food is not approved by an elder then it cannot be authentic. According to Ralat, this type of thinking is wrong, because every grandmother puts makes a dish a certain way, is different from others. For the book American Tacos, the only requirement for authenticity is creativity. That is, he uses his expertise to guide the reader to a myriad of various taco styles to educate them on how various places put their twist on certain types of tacos. Just as the region of Mexico makes dishes a certain way, the United States is the same.  The types of tacos available in a state/region of the U.S. depends on the people who live there, the geographic location, and the group Mexican immigrants from a particular region that is influencing the area. For example, the northern states of Mexico and the immigrants that hail from that area are the pioneers of the breakfast taco– and influenced Mexican-Americans and Americans alike to experiment with new ways of constructing tacos, like the puffy taco. To support this claim, at the beginning of book chapters Ralat gives the locations where a certain type of taco can be found. Overall, American Tacos is the most comprehensive and expansive book on tacos that has ever been written– if you were ever questioning if the U.S. is a taco nation, look no further.

Work Cited:

Ralat, José R. “Your Taco Country Guide.” American Tacos: a History and Guide, 1st ed., University of Texas Press, 2020, pp. 11–11.

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