Mexican Dish Food History
Food plays diverse roles in the lives of human beings. Food meets the energy and nutrients requirements. The composition of diverse cuisines directly affects the biological functions in life. However, in the process of consuming food, the process is closely influenced by cultural, politics, economic, and other factors. South America is one of the regions in the world that is home to a wide variety of culinary alternatives that are deeply rooted in their economy and culture. In particular, Mexico stands out as a metropolitan region within South America with a countrywide preference for tacos. Apart from the direct biological advantages that tacos have on the body, the dish has also united most of the locals and foreigners.
Across most Mexican streets, the taco is the most popular snack. The dish was initially created by people who preferred to pick up other foods using tortillas instead of ordinary utensils. The word “taco” originated from the Nahuatl tribe and was later translated into the Spanish context. Tacos are generally not classified as an independent meal. Most people consume them in-between meals as a snack. The basic composition of a taco is the tortilla that is a corn-based outer wrapping (Pilcher 78). Almost any foodstuff can be stuffed into a taco, and the common elements include rice, meat, cream, cheese, and fresh salsa. The preferred fillings differ based on the ethnographic spread within the country (Alvarez 32). The initial tacos were consumed with fish, but this practice died with the scarcity of the raw materials.
In general, tacos are a popular snack that resonates well with many people across the demographics. In urban areas such as cities and towns, tacos are mostly consumed by young people between the ages of 12 and 35. Regarding race, tacos are very popular among Hispanics and Caucasians (Pilcher 13). The explanation for these statistics is clear. Hispanics find it easier to consume foods that directly reflect their heritage while Caucasians are far more receptive when it comes to embracing foreign dishes.
Historical, Cultural, Political, Economic, and Technological Factors
Numerous categories of factors have driven the evolution of tacos. On the economic front, the taco product has been exploited and commercialized by international fast food companies. In the span of a few decades, these multinationals had embraced the traditional concept of the taco and translated it into a dietary staple for most urban dwellers (Anderson 22). Apart from carrying along the deep Mexican heritage, these companies have also diversified the product by adding new ingredients such as cheese and other types of meats. Companies that have been responsible for the spread of tacos across North America and the rest of Europe include KFC and Taco Bell among others (Pilcher 56). The taco has also played numerous social functions within the native regions as well as abroad. The consumption of tacos alone expresses and creates a relationship between people and their culture. In social events such as religious gatherings, sports events, and weddings, tacos are consumed in large quantities by groups. In so doing, the sociality of tacos becomes evident. It acts as the bridging factor that unites people from different regions and cultures (Counihan & Esterik 27).
In developed societies, the taco has become one of the many symbols of prosperity and progress among the urban youth. This young demographic identifies eating the taco as being socially progressive. Exotic foods are a symbol that stands for affluence and higher social class. Such foods usually contain nutritious ingredients such as protein and rare fats. They are also difficult to acquire or prepare. The traditional taco fits both these descriptions making it a much-sought-after food product (Anderson 89). To a lesser extent, since the taco has been adapted from the Mexican culture, it goes without saying that it is a symbol of their heritage. Hispanics have a high tendency of visiting taco establishments and eating native dishes when compared to other ethnic groups.
Evolution of Tacos
People across the world have consumed tacos for decades. They have celebrated the culinary excellence of this Latin foreign dish and even integrated it into their local delicacies. However, the taco has evolved over the years from the basic arrangement and composition. The initial taco had a tortilla that was made from corn (Pilcher 34). Much of this traditional technique is still evident in the current recopies. Corn kernels were soaked in lime to eliminate the husks after which they were ground. The main changes have affected the versatility of the tortilla. The basic use of a tortilla was limited to a wrapper for many decades. The tortilla evolved into a base wrapping for enchiladas. Among native Mexicans, they also play the role of eating utensils. They are popularly used as spoons or plates and many other options. The evolution also varies depending on the geographical region (Anderson 12). Little change has been witnessed in Mexico while in the United States; the taco has progressed past the level of ethnic bread. This change is partially attributed to the increased commercialization of fast foods across the media.
The adaptation of the traditional
taco is a trend that has become common within the home of origin and beyond. In
the United States, numerous international fast food companies, such as Taco
Bell and Chipotle have embraced the practice of culturally adapting the taco to
suit the rising demands of customers who prefer new delicacies. There is a
massive difference between American and Mexican tacos (Counihan and Esterik 29).
The main difference lies in the public view of each type of taco. Setting aside the previous understanding of tacos,
a basic Mexican taco lacked the cheese, chili, and other dressing. The typical
Mexican taco is slightly smaller, moist, and crunchy. Conversely, while the Mexican
one uses ground beef, the American version includes use of steak and pork chops. The elements that distinguish the
American adaptation of the taco are the addition of lime, pineapple, and salsa
(Anderson 45). In the different restaurants and establishments that offer tacos
on their menus, there are slight variations in the ingredients used. Most of
these changes reflect the cultural preferences of the clientele. For instance,
in areas having high Jewish populations, all of the ingredients used are kosher
(Alvarez 84). Apart from Caucasians, tacos have also been appropriated within
the Asian cultures especially Japan and China. This has created other versions
of the taco including taco al pastor, fish tacos, breakfast tacos and many
Alvarez, Steven. “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US Nuevo South.” Composition Studies, vol. 45, no. 2, 2017, pp. 151-269.
Anderson, Eugene Newton. Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture. NYU Press, 2014.
Counihan, Carole, and Penny Van Esterik, eds. Food and Culture: A Reader. Routledge, 2012.
Pilcher, Jeffrey M. Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food. Oxford University Press, 2017.