For no good reason, I have become interested in Tacos, and I am going to post random information here at CUANAS. Think of CUANAS as clearinghouse of information about Tacos, as well as anti-Semitism and music videos.
In Mexico, the word taco is a generic term like the English word sandwich. A taco is simply a tortilla wrapped around a filling. Like a sandwich, the filling can be made with almost anything and prepared in many different ways (anything that can be rolled inside a tortilla becomes a taco).
The contents of a taco can vary according to the geographical region you are eating them. The taco can be eaten as an entree or snack. They are made with soft corn or fried corn tortillas folded over.
1520 -Bernal Diaz del Castillo (1496-1584), a Spanish soldier who came with Hernán Cortés to the New World, wrote an intriguing and detailed chronicles called A True History of the Conquest of New Spain. He also chronicled the lavish feasts that were held. From the article by Sophie Avernin called Tackling the taco: A guide to the art of taco eating:
The first “taco bash” in the history of New Spain was documented by none other than Bernal Diaz del Castillo. Hernan Cortes organized this memorable banquet in Coyoacan for his captains, with pigs brought all the way from Cuba.
It would, however, be a mistake to think that Cortes invented the taco, since anthropologists have discovered evidence that inhabitants of the lake region of the Valley of Mexico ate tacos filled with small fish, such as acosiles and charales. The fish were replaced by small live insects and ants in the states of Morelos and Guerrero, while locusts and snails were favorite fillings in Puebla and Oaxaca.
1914 - The first-known English-language taco recipes appeared in California cookbooks beginning in 1914. Bertha Haffner-Ginger, in her cookbook California Mexican-Spanish Cook Book said tacos were:
"made by putting chopped cooked beef and chili sauce in a tortilla made of meal and flour; folded, edges sealed together with egg; fried in deep fat, chile sauce served over it."
1929 - Pauline Wiley-Kleemann in here cookbook Ramona's Spanish-Mexican Cookery, featured six taco and tacquito recipes. These included recipes for Gorditos that came from Santa Nita or Xochimilco, Pork Tacos composed of snout, ears, jowls, kidneys, and liver, Cream Cheese Tacos, Egg Tacos, Mexican Tacos, and Tacquitos
Taqueria or taco trucks are found throught the West and Southwest of the United States. There are two kinds of taco trucks; traveling trucks that cruise around neighborhoods and business areas, and non-cruising trucks parked permanently in lots.
Karen Hursh Graber in her article Wrap It Up: A Guide to Mexican Street Tacos says the following on the different types of tacos in Mexico:
Many foreigners come to Mexico with the idea that they can get tacos any time, but this is not generally true. Looking for tacos around midday, perhaps at the time of the gringo lunch, will not normally be a successful pursuit.
Tacos are either a morning treat or a nighttime snack, pretty much disappearing between the hours of noon and six p.m. This is because the main meal in Mexico is eaten in the afternoon. Not to worry: by about six the smell of meat begins to permeate the air and the taquerías are back in business. . .
From noon until about six there are almost no tacos available; morning vendors are closed until the next day. Right around dusk, however, there is a perceptible change in the atmosphere of the street following the afternoon lull. Permanent puestos, stalls and storefront taquerías begin opening, and ambulatory taco carts roll into place, usually connecting the wires from their naked light bulbs into overhead lines. . .
The most compelling signal of “taco time”, however, is the aroma. Of all the street food in Mexico, the taco is King of the Night, attracting clients with the appetizing scent of grilled, fried or steamed meat.
Since the big meal of the day is eaten in the afternoon, many people opt for a late supper, or cena, and taquerías usually stay open until about midnight, and later in big cities. On weekends, taquerías near discos and clubs stay open until the wee hours of the morning, when they provide welcome sustenance to hungry partygoers.
There are many types of tacos served in Mexico and the United States. The following are the most popular ones served in the United States:
Taco al Pastor - The most popular taco in Mexico. The name means "shepherd's-style taco." Here the main ingredient is spiced pork, which is cut, in slivers, from a loaf of meat standing on a vertical spit in front of an open flame. These tacos are a Mexican adaptation of the spit-grilled meat brought by immigrants from Lebanon.
Breakfast Tacos - Breakfast tacos or burritos are available at many restaurants across the Southwest (especially New Mexico and Texas). It is a fried corn or flour tortilla that is rolled and stuffed with a mixture of seasoned meat, eggs, or cheese, and other ingredients such as onions and salsa. Much like sandwiches, these tacos can be as simple or complex as imagination allows. They are served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and they have gone mainstream to meet demands.
Fish Tacos - Ensenada, Mexico claims to be the birth place of the fish taco, and they are advertised at restaurants throughout the city where many claim that their taco is the original. The best place to sample them is at any of the small food stands that line the streets around the Mercado Negro, Ensenada’s incredible fish market. The fish tacos served are simply small pieces of batter-coated, fried fish in a hot corn or wheat tortilla.
People in the coastal areas of Mexico have been eating fish tacos for a long time. The history of fish tacos could seemly go back thousands of years to when indigenous North American peoples first wrapped the plentiful offshore catch into stone-ground-corn tortillas. The people of Ensenada say their port town is the fish taco's true home, dating at least from the opening of the Ensenada mercado, in 1958.
The people of San Diego, California, have been hooked on fish tacos since 1983. In fact, fish tacos are the fast-food signature dish of San Diego: they're cheap to buy and fast to make. Fish tacos were popularized in the United States by Ralph Rubio, who first tasted them while on spring break in Baja, Mexico.
According to the story he tells, there was one Baja vendor he especially liked, a man named Carlos, who ran a hole-in-the-wall taco stand with a 10-foot counter and a few stools. Carlos fried fish to order and put it on a warm tortilla. Customers added their own condiments.
Rubio tried to persuade Carlos to move to San Diego, but Carlos was happy where he was and would not budge. He did agree, however, to share his recipe, which Rubio scrawled on a piece of paper pulled from his wallet. Several years later, Rubio opened his own restuarnat in San Diego, called Rubio's - Home of the Fish Taco. Today, fish tacos are legendary and are sole throughout San Diego and the Southwest.
A taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a rolled, folded, pliable maize tortilla filled with an edible substance.
According to the Real Academia Española, the word taco originally means "plug" and refers to rolled paper or cloth patches for musket balls.
It can also be argued that the word taco originates from Nahuatl, a native Mexican language, from the word itacatl, which means large tortilla filled with beans and salt. The word taco is used differently outside of Mexico; the RAE lists 27 possible meanings for the word.
A taco is normally served flat on a tortilla that has been warmed up on a comal; since the tortilla is still soft, it can be folded over or pinched together into a U-shape for convenient consumption. In the variant known as the taco dorado (fried taco), flauta (flute in English, because of the shape), or taquito, the tortilla is filled with pre-cooked shredded chicken, beef or barbacoa, rolled into an elongated cylinder and deep-fried until crisp.
De Cabeza or head tacos, in which there is a flat punctured metal plate from which steam comes out for the cooking of the following parts from the head of the cow: starting with plain Cabeza which is a serving of the muscles on the cow's head, cow's brains or Sesos, cow's tongue or Lengua, cow's cheeks or Cachete, cow's lips or Trompa, and cow's eye or Ojo; for these tacos the tortillas are warmed on the same steaming plate for a different consistency. These are served in pairs, and also include salsa, onion and cilantro. Guacamole is not standard but is optional.
If you enjoy these photographs, you can Buy Prints online.
My niche marketing plan:
Traveling Taco-Art Exhibit: I will be sending my Taco Art around the world. If you would like to display my art in your venue (museum, college, company, etc), please email me with a few details about your organization. Ideally, you'd display the art for a few weeks to a month, and then send it to the next venue on the list. All I ask for is a few photos of the public enjoying my art.
Email me if you're interested.
4/3/08 - A fantastic email I received today:
I just found your site and was moved by your Tacography. I left, however, wanting more. I imagine seeing your artform expanded to thoughtful mimcry of all other sorts of imagery that is used for art. I'm thinking of landscapes including tacos (perhaps grazing sheep replaced with tacos). I imagine sports photography that replaces the players or perhaps their tools with Tacos. An abstract piece made from the components of tacos comes to mind.
Political imagery where unfilled taco shells replace the starving people in various countries; or broken and burned tacos depicting wartime events.
Tacos on a gondola ride in venice. A dilbert style comic strip where the characters are tacos and mexican food.
A taco catalog with the shells acting as models, showcasing the new line of designer toppings and additives.
Punk or Rave tacos with food coloring on their shells and spiked lettuce and cheese. You could drive traffic to your site by using taco's to depict scenes that are current news topics, or mock the latest "marketing genius" by replacing their subjects with tacos. --Tahnka
2/13/08 - The UC Santa Barbara Graduate Lounge is now displaying Taco Art:
2/13/08 - The UC Santa Barbara Graduate Lounge is now displaying Taco Art:
I have no doubt it is spurring all sorts of academic discussions.
10/25/07 - An email I received from Perry:
I told my girlfriend about your taco art. She's a curatorial intern at the ------ Museum of Art. You'd think she'd recognize fine art when she saw it, and she does like tacos, but she didn't seem to take it seriously enough.
That's probably because I brought it up when she was talking about 'serious' art exhibits with her parents.
Not that she has any power there or anything, being an intern and all, but still, it'd have been nice to try and get you in at the -MA.
Thanks very much for trying. Maybe in time she will come to appreciate Taco Art.
9/29/07 - Lots of things have been happening in the world of Fine Art Taco Photography. Many prints have been sold, and have received a few leads for my traveling taco-art exhibit. I've been getting a lot of emails. In the near future, I'll put together a FAQ.
CollegeHumor linked this site in their Hotlinks - "Weird stuff we found on the Web" section. That's pretty cool.
9/19/07 - Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day. This site was down for a few hours. What happened was the other site hosted on my server (venganza.org) was clogged with traffic because of TLAP day, and the server died. Everything's back up now.
9/15/07 - I received some emails asking for larger prints. I'm having a 20"x30" print made today and we'll see if it looks ok.
9/14/07 - New York Magazine has written about my project on their Grub Street blog..
More to come.