April 30, 2012
The New York Times, Julia Moskin, 4/30/12
ADMIT it, tortilla-chip fans: you are curious about Taco Bell Doritos Locos tacos, introduced in March. These salt bombs take the usual fast-food taco filling and stuff them inside a giant orange-dusted nacho-cheese chip. They have been so successful that the company has just introduced a Cool Ranch flavor.
But to truly grasp the significance of these creations, the taco must be eaten in the company of Gustavo Arellano, a journalist and Orange County, Calif., native who is perhaps the greatest (and only) living scholar of Mexican-American fast food.
And preferably, you will eat it here, in the birthplace of American fast food, while he explains to you precisely how the Frito, America’s first corn chip, was copied from the Mexican tostado, then evolved into the Dorito and eventually the Tostito.
April 23, 2012
For 50 years, the taco has been a staple of American life. It’s in school lunches and Michelin-star restaurants. It even helped launch the food truck craze. So how did the taco come to loom so large in American bellies?
In Gustavo Arellano‘s new book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, he explains our love of all things folded into a tortilla. I recently joined him for a 150-mile tour of Southern California’s taco trail, visiting cultural touchstones in the evolution of the Mexican snack in America. Here’s our tour.
Stop One: Cielito Lindo Food Stand, Olvera Street, Los Angeles: Since the 1930s, this tiny stand — located in the heart of historic L.A. — has been famous for its rolled, fried taquitos, covered in avocado sauce. Arellano thinks of the food stand as a Plymouth Rock of tacos, one place where the Mexican staple met a broader American audience.
January 5, 2010
The New York Times, 1/5/10
Fresh tamales with chicken in red or green salsa, and vegetarian ones, with chilies, are the draw on Saturdays starting at 9:30 at Las Palomas, a tiny Mexican store. A newer attraction is goat barbacoa, fork-tender, mostly boned, and delicious reheated with a slather of salsa, also sold there.
Some other Mexican essentials that have become supermarket staples, like tortillas and masa, are carried by Leticia Benicio, who is from Puebla, Mexico, and has lived in New York for more than 15 years.