Taco Scholars Rejoice: This College Course Plots the History of Your Favorite Food

Aspiring taco scholars will have to head to University of Kentucky for the course.

By Becky Fogel & Alain StephensFebruary 1, 2016 11:47 am,

Attention students and taco lovers alike: you can now receive course credit for studying that delectable goodness wrapped up in a tortilla. But if you were hoping to pay in-state tuition, you’d be out of luck. It’s at the University of Kentucky.

Professor Steven Alvarez teaches the class. The title of his course is Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the U.S. South. But the course is about more than just your favorite taqueria fare.

“Really, its the ‘literacy’ that’s the most important part,” Alvarez says. “Looking at and examining literacy is more than just the ability to, say, read and write, but about social interactions. So really this course is looking at food – writing, reading about food, speaking about food, and how this brings people together in what we like to think of as literacy in a public sphere.”

The course will look at how food and language reflect shifts in culture, particularly in immigrant communities in Kentucky.

“What I realized (through my research) is food has very tender and emotional aspects of care attached to it,” Alvarez says. “And we start to see … names of food and names for family members or things often carry over, even when there’s a language loss over generations.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.