The Ancient Taco
Ancient Mexican dishes are combined with those from other cultures to create the modern taco, which bears little resemblance to its ancestors. Nevertheless, before it was known in the United States, native people in Mexico were eating a version that looked very different from what is eaten now.
Where did one of America’s most beloved forms of home cooking get its start? Here is a brief history of one of the most delicious cuisines that can be found anywhere in the world.
It is believed that tacos originated in Mexico long before the Spanish arrived in the country. The ancient Mexicans utilized maize tortillas that were freshly prepared, which were soft and flat, and they filled them with things like fish and roasted organs. It was a staple meal that gave individuals who devoured it the nourishment and energy they needed to get through the day.
These tacos lacked the traditional toppings of cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and tomato that are typically associated with a taco dinner. In point of fact, the taco as we know it has been around for fewer than a hundred years.
The Name “Taco”: A Modern Invention
The word “taco” is quite recent in usage.
The Mexican silver miners of the 18th century are credited with its invention. Before the explosion, the gunpowder was rolled up in a piece of paper to resemble a “taquito” and placed inside the rocks.
At this point in time, tacos had gained a reputation for being the food of the working class, which included mine workers. As a result of this, their portable street cuisine became known as “tacos de minero,” which is also referred to as “miner’s tacos.”
The tortilla used in these miner’s tacos did not take the form of a sturdy U-shaped shell as we are accustomed to seeing nowadays. It turned out to be a corn tortilla stuffed with a spicy filling instead. This mainstay in one’s diet was not only excellent but also quite inexpensive.
Coming to America
The year 1905 marks the year when the taco was first served in the United States. It wasn’t long before the Mexican migrants who came to the United States to work on the railroads and in other industries also brought their mouthwatering cuisine with them.
During this time period, tacos were mostly consumed as a form of street cuisine due to their low cost and portability. In point of fact, tacos were originally brought to the attention of Americans by “chili queens,” proprietors of Mexican food carts in Los Angeles who were known for their spicy chili.
These ladies sold delectable and inexpensive Mexican food such as tacos made on soft corn tortillas, and any American who sampled one of these tacos thought they were unique. The fillings had a flavor that was foreign to the typical American palate and were extremely hot.
By 1920, the cuisine brought to the United States by Mexican immigrants had begun to include American elements.
Organs were substituted with ground beef and chicken because it was a more appetizing option. The most common fillings are now cheddar cheese, crisp lettuce, and ripe tomatoes. For Americans, whose traditional food typically emphasizes more subdued flavors, this dish came to be characterized as the “ultimate” taco.
To put it succinctly, the taco was evolving into something of a hybrid of Mexican and American cuisine. Things grew even more intriguing when Taco Bell became popular and established a category of food that was labeled as “Mexican” but was in no way derived from traditional Mexican cuisine.
The Ultimate Taco… Wasn’t Even Supposed to Be a Taco!
Did you know that Glen Bell, the founder of Taco Bell, discovered that the name “taco” was actually not a term that Mexicans used to describe the meal? Instead, Mexicans used a variety of other phrases to describe tacos, which differed depending on the region and the culture of the area.
The Mexicans would refer to the dish as a “taco” when speaking to Americans because that was their word for it. This is quite similar to how the Korean food chain Bon Chon refers to their “egg rolls” as “potstickers” on their mainstream menu, despite the fact that the dish is more appropriately known as “mandu” among Koreans.
That Crunchy Shell
In the 1940s, a pre-fried taco shell in the shape of an u was developed and eventually became a fan favorite. In an effort to speed up the taco-making process, Mexicans were the first to patent this innovation. Ten years later, Taco Bell implemented this approach in order to streamline their business operations.
In the past, tacos were made fresh when ordered and were only available in soft form. Producing tacos in huge quantities in the United States was facilitated by the availability of a crunchy taco shell that was premade.
These days, tacos are available virtually everywhere, from your neighborhood street food stall to Chipotle. Every restaurant provides a unique experience, whether it’s traditional Mexican fare or a fusion dish influenced by Mexican cuisine.
Taquerias have been steadily gaining in popularity as of late, largely as a result of the desire of Millennials for “mom and pop” restaurants. These eateries serve traditional Mexican cuisine, such as Tacos al Pastor, de Barbacoa, and Carnitas, among other options.
Americans are falling in love with the authentic flavors of Mexico that are being brought to them by Mexican restaurants, which are moving away from the practice of Americanizing the ingredients they use.
These tacos are not the same as the traditional tacos that were popular in the United States in the 20th century. There is neither lettuce nor cheese present. Instead, you’ll find soft corn tortillas stuffed with meat that has been genuinely seasoned, cilantro, radish pieces, grilled onion, and a variety of hot sauces.
Tacos of All Kinds
It seems like tacos have a bright future ahead of them. The cultural interaction only serves to increase the respect that people in the United States have for Mexico’s traditional taco. Confident chefs are bringing in the authentic taste of home. As a result, you can see more wonderful fusion tacos coming to be. At Twisted Taco, in point of fact, you are able to try tacos that incorporate flavors not just from Mexico but also from other parts of the world.