Taco History and Recipe: How Mexican Cuisine Conquered the World

Powder charge wrapper, arquebus fuse, rifle ramrod — Mexican miners used the explosive word “taco” to name their favorite dish, which subsequently conquered America and the whole world< /p>

Every year at the height of spring, Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo (May 5). The memorable date was established in honor of the victory in 1862 in the Battle of Puebla over the French army. The battle of Puebla for the Mexicans is about the same as the Battle of Kulikovo for the Russians.

After the defeat, the French, who occupied the country, ruled Mexico for another five years, but the battle won strengthened the morale of the Latin Americans and helped eventually restore the country's independence and the republican system.

The history and recipe of tacos: how Mexican cuisine conquered the whole world

On the occasion of the holiday, Mexicans decorate their houses with national flags, folk music performed by mariachi musicians sounds everywhere, and tequila is drunk in bars and on the streets and traditional dishes are sold. The most popular of them is tacos: a warmed corn tortilla stuffed with your choice of beef, pork, poultry, cheese – topped with a spicy sauce, salsa (as any sauce is called in Spanish).

< p>Salsa is red, made from tomatoes and chili peppers, and green , made from tomatillo, cilantro and chili. In addition, classic avocado guacamole and picode gallo made from chopped tomatoes, onions, chili and cilantro are common.

Corn tortilla has been cooked by the indigenous peoples of the Americas for thousands of years. It served as the basis of the diet of the Indians before Columbus and before the creation of the Aztec empire. The Spaniards called this bread tortilla, because outwardly the tortilla reminded them of an omelette (in Spanish tortilla). Over time, in Mexico, tortillas began to be made not only with corn, but also with wheat, but the latter were eaten only by immigrants from Europe: the Indians brought corn bread as a gift to their gods, and Catholics prepared bread for communion from wheat.

The Taco History and Recipe: How Mexican Cuisine Conquered the World


Marco Ferreira

A native of Los Angeles, the chef of the Moscow bar Rick's (in 2019. – Note Vokrugsveta.ru) – about regional features of tacos

What's the big deal about tacos?

The right tortilla: no matter wheat or corn. The tortilla is the “engine” of the taco, it should not be dry, but rather oily in taste. The fillings are different. Grilled beef tacos (carne asada) are popular in northern Mexico. Supporters of this recipe are divided into two camps. Some people think that the fried steak for tacos needs to be cut into large pieces, others – for slices. In Mexico City they love al pastorwith pork, pineapple slices and salsa sauce, in the south they put chicken, cactus pulp, fresh cheese, well, and on the coast – shrimp and other seafood with pico de gallo sauce.

Often did your family eat this dish?

When I was visiting my grandmother in Mexicali (a city in the Mexican state of Baja California) as a child, she made tacos daily with different fillings: beef, pork, cheese & nbsp; – and sold them for a dollar from a cart near the house. My grandmother baked tortillas, and from the very morning their smell filled my room. My favorite was her cheese tacos.

Do you currently live in the USA, where is it worth trying tacos there?

There are a lot of such establishments in Los Angeles, because there is the largest Mexican diaspora in the USA. My favorite taqueria is Petty Cash, a stylish place with murals by street artist Retna.

Jeffrey M. Pilcher in Planet Taco: a Global History of Mexican Foodnotes that from time immemorial, in different regions of Mexico, Indians have prepared snacks with corn tortillas. Each region of the country has different names for these dishes, but tacos are not among them.

Pilcher says the name of the dish came up with Mexican miners who worked in the country's largest silver mines Real del Monte near the city of Pachuca. Initially, the word “taco” meant a wrapper for a powder charge for blasting in a mine. At the beginning of the 17th century, the French called this part of the fuse for the arquebus, and a century later, the Spaniards meant by “taco” a gun ramrod or charge.

In the slang of Mexican hard workers, “tacos” began to be called a simple meal of corn tortillas, baked potatoes and salsa. The descendants of miners who went to work in the southwestern United States (the lands that were part of Mexico until the middle of the 19th century) brought her recipe with them. The dish was given the unofficial name “sweaty taco”, and in the cookbooks of the time it entered under the name “miner's taco” (taco de mineros).

In the 20th century, simple fast food conquered not only Mexicans, but also Americans, becoming a landmark dish for the so-called California-Mexican cuisine. The United States even has its own day of the week for tacos – Tuesday, or Tuesday taco. On Tuesdays, special offers with big discounts appear in taquerias and American chains specializing in the famous Mexican street food.

Taco festivals in the southwestern United States go on all year round. The largest of them gather fans of this street fast food in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, prizes for the best tacos reach several thousand dollars. Thanks to the influx of immigrants from all over the world to America, this dish began to be prepared in the Arabic style with lamb, and in Korean, using kimchi as a filling, and in Indian style with paratha cakes.

In Los Angeles, tacos they sell both in large restaurants and from mobile counters – food trucks. The most famous of them –Guerrilla Tacosowned by professional chef Wes Avila. His signature tacos, with unusual ingredients like scrambled eggs, are wildly popular. Wherever you try tacos, remember the main rule – eat this dish only with your hands.


Taco carne asadawith guacamole sauce

Servings: 4 (3 tacos per serving)
Cooking time: 20 minutes< /strong>
Calories: 347 kcal per 100 g

Beef steak (thick edge) — 300 g
Guerrero corn tortillas – 12 pcs
Salt and pepper-2 g each

For the marinade:

Yellow onion -2 pcs .
Jalapeño chili – 2 pcs.
Chili powder – 1 tbsp. l.
Dried oregano – 1 tbsp. l.
Orange— 3 pcs.
Lemon— 1 pc.
Lime— 2 pcs.
Ground cumin – 2 g
Beer Corona – 1 bottle

For guacamole:

Jalapeño , tomato, lime – 1 each
Avocado– 2 each
Salt– to taste

To decorate:

Parsley – 2 sprigs
Tomato – 1 pc.

The history and recipe of tacos: how Mexican cuisine conquered the whole world

    For the marinade, cut the onion and jalapeno into slices, put in a deep container. Squeeze juice from oranges, lemon and lime there, pour in beer, add spices. Put the beef in the marinade, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

    Remove the meat from the marinade. Cut into pieces of 150 g, fry on both sides for 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Let the meat rest for 7 minutes.

    For the guacamole sauce, peel and mash the avocado, cut the jalapeno pepper (without seeds) into small cubes, and the tomatoes into medium cubes. Squeeze juice from a ripe lime. Mix everything thoroughly.

    Cut the steak into thin pieces. Heat the corn tortillas on the grill, top each with a teaspoon of guacamole and three pieces of meat. Garnish with a lime quarter and pickled onion. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and parsley.

Photo: Grigory Polyakovsky

The material was published in the magazine “Around the World” No. 7, July 2019

Elena Knyazeva


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