Making Tacos Is Storytelling

The words used to describe taco-making techniques, many of them in Spanish, tell the heritage of the people in the kitchen.

By Casey Cheek & Rhonda FanningDecember 21, 2017 1:31 pm| ,

As important as taco ingredients are, the terms and techniques found in recipes tell much more about where particular kinds of tacos came from, and how the knowledge was passed on. Armando Rayo says he learned this first-hand as he and his co-author worked on their book, The Tacos of Texas.

“This is oral storytelling in the kitchen,” Rayo says. “Because you have generations – whether it’s grandma passing it to mom, or passing it to the children – with that come stories and wit that comes experiences and then these recipes.”

He says learning family taco recipes, and what particular terms mean, took a lot of patience. And many Spanish cooking terms don’t translate literally into English. Their meaning is more informal.

Among the terms Rayo learned:

Caso: a big pot, or cauldron

Carne asada: a barbecue

Taquesa: a taco feast

Plancha: a flat griddle

Trumpo: a vertical griddle

Listen in the player above to hear more taco terminology.