When we first started this semester I was so excited to dive in Mexican cuisine and learn about this history of some of my favorite dishes. And while I did get to learn about some awesome tacos and got to try different amazing food such as tamarindo and pan dulce. In retrospect I learned a lot more than just about tacos, I learned about transnational migrations, cultural appropriation, authenticity, history, people, politics and migrant laborers. Looking back on all my assignments even though they all revolve around a specific dish or cuisine there is an underlying theme of migration that runs across them. In my first assignment I talked about my experience at Five Burros restaurant in Forest Hills and focused on exploring the history of the burrito. I learned about the way that burritos made their way in the states through the braceros program in the 1940’s. How this food that is loved by all started out as the cheap and easy food given to migrant workers. I learned about the history of migration behind the iconic taco al pastor. The taco al pastor is the result of Lebanese immigrants coming to Mexico, and it was brought over to the United States by Mexican immigrants. It’s amazing how this one little taco, has such a deep seeded history of migration and the way that food, people and cultures interact to form something so special. This taco is now being sold in places all around the globe, from Mexico, to Puebla York and Los Angeles in places such as at King Taco, the restaurant that rose out of the first taco truck. I was able to learn more about what it means to be authentic, and how and why it should matter. I was able to read from authors such as José R. Ralat who argues that any taco can be authentic to the community it is from. To authors such as Dr. Lois Stanfold, who argued that marginalized immigrant communities are being stripped of their narrative in order to create mass marketing for a fabricated Mexican food experience. Reading these authors made me question what my own views about authenticity are and how they should be applied. In the last assignment I got to utilize all the knowledge and research I had accumulated and apply it to my own culture using my mother’s own personal stories. I learned more about my mom and my family as well as heard some stories behind some of my favorite foods such as the bandeja paisa and buñuellos. I am very proud of all the research I have made and produced throughout the semester and even though they were all individual assignments they all come together under the umbrella of migration, the difficulties of maintaining cultures through food and of spreading culture through food. In the future I want to continue to highlight how immigrant communities bring so much to the table, both literally through food but also in means of culture, activism, and the passing down of traditions. At the start of the year I really did not know what I wanted to do upon graduation with my english degree. The research I have done in this class helped me see that I want to be able to share peoples stories, and be a spokesperson for the people who have so much to offer but oftentimes are overlooked. Reading Professor Galvez’s book opened my eyes to the way that anything, such as food can be used to share stories and hopefully bring about change.I am considering going into law school to learn more about social justice, and help immigrants have a voice at the table. Because when people come together and join forces something beautiful can happen, such as the taco al pastor.
Arellano, Gustavo. Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. Scribner, 2013.
Alvarez, Steven. “Anyone Saying New York’s Mexican Food Sucks Hasn’t Visited Puebla York.” Eater, Eater, 23 Apr. 2019
Gálvez Alyshia. Eating NAFTA Trade, Food Policies, and the Destruction of Mexico. University of California Press, 2018.
Ralat José R. American Tacos: a History and Guide. University of Texas Press, 2020.
Stanford, Lois. “When the Marginal Becomes the Exotic: The Politics of Culinary Tourism in Indigenous Communities in Rural Mexico.” Reimagining Marginalized Foods: Global Processes, Local Places, edited by ELIZABETH FINNIS, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2012, pp. 67–87. JSTOR,