Wednesday, October 20, 2010
It sounds so simple, three seasoned hard shelled tacos filled with your choice of shredded beef or shredded chicken topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mexican cheese. But the basic taco has travelled over time on a road of different composites.
And upon further investigation, you will find that the taco predates the arrival of Europeans in Mexico. There is anthropological evidence that the indigenous people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate tacos filled with small fish. Writing at the time of the Spanish conquistors, Bernal Díaz del Castillo documented the first taco feast enjoyed by Europeans which Hernán Cortés arranged for his captains in Coyoacán. It is not clear why the Spanish used their word, "taco" to describe this indigenous food.
Beginning from the early part of the twentieth century, various styles of tacos have become popular in the United States and Canada. The style that has become most common is the hard-shell, U-shaped version first described in a cookbook authored by Fabiola Cabeza de Vaca Gilbert and published in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1949. These have been sold by restaurants and by fast food chains. Even non-Mexican oriented fast food restaurants have sold tacos. Mass production of this type of taco was encouraged by the invention of devices to hold the tortillas in the U-shape as they were deep-fried. A patent for such a device was issued to New York restaurateur Juvenico Maldonado in 1950, based on his patent filing of 1947. (U.S. Patent No. 2,506,305)