Many Texans think of tacos as a food group. But how well do we really know the their origins and history?
Taco expert Mando Rayo, co-author of The Tacos of Texas, tests Texas Standard host David Brown’s #TacoKnowledge, asking Brown to categorize recipes by their Mexican, Tex-Mex and New American origins.
His first taco variety – carne guisada, which Rayo defines as “beef chunk roast with gravy” – falls in the Tex-Mex category.
“When you think about tacos in Texas, you think of breakfast tacos,” Rayo says of Tex-Mex inventions. “The reason for that is the flour tortilla. You can find some flour tortillas in Northern Mexico, but once you go through central and south, you’re not really going to find that many.”
Rayo says the puffy taco is also considered a Tex-Mex creation.
Next up is carne asada. It’s a traditional Mexican taco. Rayo explains it as “thick cut steak grilled over mesquite,” and suggests ordering the taco in threes with added lime, cilantro, onions and red salsa.
Finally come a Korean barbecue taco containing pulled pork, kimchi, cucumber, cilantro and jalapenos in a corn tortilla. This taco is a New American fusion creation.
“This is what we’re seeing – different chefs are creating their different versions,” Rayo says of fusion creations like cornmeal fried oyster tacos. “They’re mixing those cultures.”
Written by Rachel Rascoe.