The invention of tacos goes back at least 500 years. With time, a Mexican dish has gone from hard labor sustenance to gourmet status, with pan-cultural appeal.
In 21st century America, it’s hard to imagine life without tacos. Tacos are on the menu in high-end restaurants and not-so-high-end restaurants and all sorts of restaurants in between.
But before tacos became present anywhere Critter Control Cost – and in a gourmet version with a margarita bar, if you are lucky – there was a time if Californians and Texans did not know about folded tortillas and tasty fillings. In fact, you can trace the history of tacos into a not-so-distant period when visionary Mexican people first began experimenting with tortillas wrapped around the classic Indian and, afterwards, peasant diet of rice, beans, vegetables and chili peppers; and later, following the conquest of Mexico, meat.
They may pre-date the Europeans’ arrival in Central America – and perhaps fish tacos were the first form.
Del Castillo ended up getting the governor of Antigua Guatemala. However, there is no record of whether or not he hired taco caterers for diplomatic entertainment during his rule.
The actual word “taco” may have come later. SmithsonianMag.com, the online magazine of this venerated Smithsonian Institution, cautions that the real sources of tacos (the food) are murky, but it seems the name is tied to the dynamite used in silver mines during the 1700s. Explosives wrapped in newspaper were used to blast rocks in the precious metal mines.
It stayed working class food for some time to come, together with the European settlers eschewing it for more continental fare. No worries -proud Mexican nationals embraced it as a part of their (non-European) Aztec heritage.
Around the 1880s, Mexican immigrants to Texas began selling tacos in Austin, first to festivalgoers and afterwards to tourists who were considering the tastes of Mexico without the worries of banditos south of the Rio Grande. The ingredients which were used evolved in the first half of the 20th century, based on agricultural and ethnic-origin factors.
The food carts of Austin were replaced by restaurants and, finally, overshadowed by a non-Mexican named Glen Bell, the founder of Taco Bell restaurants. It’s safe to say that millions of people ate their first taco at Taco Bell. The series may use somewhat banal American ingredients (e.g., iceberg lettuce), but tacos have always been versatile and adaptable to local tastes.
Now taco businesses offer catering at private parties and public events equally and serve a broad variety of tacos (and their cousin, the burritos) with a virtually infinite number of options for fillings. And just as tacos fed hungry workers long ago, the nutrition in tacos could be remarkable healthy and satiating to modern diners of any socioeconomic strata.
It’s tough to imaging they won’t. Just so long as the taste continues to burst with texture, taste and spice, tacos will likely be the preferred fun food for generations to come.