According to this week's cover story, written by Gustavo Arellano, San Francisco played a surprising and key role in the spread of Mexican food across America. The story is an excerpt from Arellano's new book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, which comes out this week. Arellano's book celebrates the canned tamales, hard-shell tacos, and Mission burritos that Americans have fallen in love with, as well as the Mexican Americans who created them (whether credited or not).
SFoodie had a chance to speak to Arellano, who is also editor of the OC Weekly, several days ago. 1914 cookbook of California Mexican-Spanish dishes by Bertha Haffner-Ginger. It's what we would know as a taco dorado. Tacos don't started getting mentioned in newspaper stories and put on menus until late 1920s. Soft tacos are really a dish of Central Mexico, and it wasn't until the Mexican revolution until people who ate tacos in their daily lives migrated to the United States.
Tacos first made it to the Southwest, of course. Then in the 1950s, once companies started looking for the next hamburger, interest in tacos explodes in earnest with Taco Bell and its imitators. That's a hardshell taco, of course. It wasn't until the 1980s that the taco that most of us call a taco became widespread, as more Mexican immigrants came into the country.