We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Some of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Gustavo Arellano: How Mexican Food Conquered the U.S.

by Mark Gabrish Conlan/Zenger's Newsmagazine Sunday, May. 06, 2012 at 5:07 PM
mgconlan@earthlink.net (619) 688-1886 P. O. Box 50134, San Diego, CA 92165

Gustavo Arellano, who in the last decade has risen from food editor at the O.C. Weekly in Orange County to investigative reporter at the paper and author of the popular syndicated column “¡Ask a Mexican!,” a witty send-up of anti-Mexican stereotypes published in at least 38 media outlets, came to San Diego April 11 to promote his latest book, "Taco U.S.A.: How Mexican Food Conquered America."

Gustavo Arellano: Ho...
arellano.a.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x797

Gustavo Arellano: How Mexican Food Conquered the U.S.


Copyright © 2012 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

Gustavo Arellano, who in the last decade has risen from food editor at the O.C. Weekly in Orange County to investigative reporter at the paper and author of the popular syndicated column “¡Ask a Mexican!,” a witty send-up of anti-Mexican stereotypes published in at least 38 media outlets, came to San Diego to speak at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park April 11. He was there to promote his latest book, "Taco U.S.A.: How Mexican Food Conquered America," and his talk encompassed everything from the ways Anglo-Americans made big bucks appropriating Mexican recipes to the way creative cooks and restaurateurs keep inventing new variations on the old Mexican culinary themes.

“I’m going to start with my anecdote on Mexican food in San Diego,” he announced. “Two years ago, I spoke at the book fair at San Diego City College. Then we went across the street to a small Mexican place to eat. I saw the burritos on the menu and there was a listing for a ‘California Burrito,’ which I’d never seen before. I asked what was a California burrito, and they said, ‘You’ve never heard of it?’ They looked at me like I was from the Minuteman Project. Then they told me it’s a burrito with French fries in it, and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ But I ordered it, and when I got the mixing of the meat, rice and French fries in it, it tasted great.”

What that did to him, Arellano said, was cure him of any residual notions of auténtico in Mexican food. He’s come to appreciate the vast regional variations of his ancestral homeland’s cuisine, not only in Mexico itself (a subject so vast he decided early on not even to try to cover the different kinds of Mexican food in Mexico) but throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world. In the book he explodes some of the myths surrounding the origins of many popular “Mexican” dishes — Doritos (corn chips with cheese), for example, were actually invented in Disneyland as a way of using leftover scraps of tortillas — and tells a wide variety of stories.

Arellano traced the proliferation of San Diego taco shops named with the suffix “-berto’s” to one Roberto Robledo, a bracero (Mexican guest worker) who settled in San Ysidro in 1957, started a taco stand, built a chain and then disaffiliated some of his relatives from his chain because he didn’t think they were using fresh enough ingredients. Roberto Robledo died well before Arellano started his research, but Arellano was able to interview his son Reinaldo, who told him that the family launched not only Roberto’s and the rival chain Alberto’s but also Lolita’s, where Reinaldo’s sisters sold their own invention: a “2-in-1 burrito” with tortillas inside as well as outside.

Taco U.S.A. is a fun book, livened up by Arellano’s sprightly prose style, but it’s also full of stories of cultural imperialism, notably in the early chapters on how Mexican (and, later, African-American) street vendors who sold tamales were put out of business and replaced by white entrepreneurs selling cleaned-up versions in sit-down restaurants at higher prices. (African-American jazz and blues songs like Freddie Keppard’s “Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man” and Robert Johnson’s “They’re Red Hot” immortalize the Black tamale vendors of New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta.)

Among his most grimly ironic stories was how Christine Sterling, a socialite who had relocated from Northern California to Los Angeles, learned that the L.A. city fathers were planning to tear down the historic Mexican buildings around Olvera Street. She intervened and saved them from destruction, then transformed them into her own romanticized image of “Old Mexico,” with waiters dressed in costumes supposedly resembling the clothes worn by the grandees of Spanish Mexico. Among the innovations of Olvera Street — which Arellano basically describes as a theme park long before theme parks were “in” — was the taquito, a rolled-up tortilla filled with meat and guacamole invented there in 1934 and now a standard “Mexican” dish.

According to Arellano, Mexican dishes have not only conquered El Norte but are marching across the world, seducing palates in places as far removed from Norteamericano as Australia and Japan. “There’s no stopping Mexicans and no stopping Mexican food,” he said at the end of his talk. “It’s the manifest destiny of good taste.”
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy