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Mexican-American Pizza Chain Defends 'Offensive' Word Use

Mexican-American Pizza Chain Defends 'Offensive' Word Use

Pizza Patron may be in trouble for using a "bad word" as the name of their pizza, but is it good for publicity?

It turns out that the “La Chingona” pizza is now “La Chin-gone” off the radio air-waves. Pizza Patron, The Dallas based pizza chain that caters to Mexican-Americans has been censored after naming their new pizza creation, “La Chingona” which loosely translates to “really cool guy/girl” but can also be an expletive to mean more, “bada$$.”

Now NPR has canceled their segment on La Chingona pizza’s controversy, for fear of retaliation by the Federal Communications Commission. Telemundo 39 KXTX, the local affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth, ran a story that censored the name of the pizza, according to Digital Journal.

“The Mexican has a very peculiar sense of humor, and what makes Pizza Patrón connect with your target market is leaving aside stereotypes, the brand speaks the same language as they speak, and we speak,” said Aldo Quevedo, creative director and senior partner of Richards / Lerma, the advertising agency behind the pizza’s campaign, in a statement that was translated through Google Translate.

Edward Padilla, the corporate manager of Pizza Patrón, further defended his company, saying, “Our campaign’s only aim is to connect with the heart of our customers who know who we are and in turn, we know our customer.” Again, this statement was translated through Google Translate.

La Chingona pizza is a large pepperoni pie with approximately 90 jalapeño-stuffed pepperoni slices.


Cultural appropriation: Why is food such a sensitive subject?

Lucky Lee's, a new Chinese restaurant run by a Jewish-American couple, advertised itself as providing "clean" Chinese food with healthy ingredients that wouldn't make people feel "bloated and icky the next day".

It told Eater website: "There are very few American-Chinese places as mindful about the quality of ingredients as we are."

It prompted a fierce backlash on social media from people who accused the restaurant of racist language, cultural appropriation, and a lack of understanding of Chinese food.

The restaurant's Instagram account was besieged with thousands of angry comments, including some which questioned the credentials of a white couple running a Chinese restaurant - as well as comments from defenders who accused the "online slacktivists" of being easily offended, and targeting the restaurateurs simply because of their race.

The whole debate became so polarised that ratings site Yelp placed an "unusual activity" alert on the restaurant's page after it was flooded with both positive and negative reviews, many seemingly from people who hadn't actually been to the restaurant.

Lucky Lee's has since issued a statement saying that it was not "commenting negatively on all Chinese food… Chinese cuisine is incredibly diverse and comes in many different flavours (usually delicious in our opinion) and health benefits".

It added that it would "always listen and reflect accordingly" to take "cultural sensitivities" into account.

The owner, Arielle Haspel, told the New York Times: "We are so sorry. We were never trying to do something against the Chinese community. We thought we were complementing an incredibly important cuisine, in a way that would cater to people that had certain dietary requirements."

The uproar is the latest in a series of rows over food and cultural appropriation.

US celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern came under fire for saying that his restaurant Lucky Cricket would save people from the low-standard "restaurants masquerading as Chinese food that are in the Midwest". Critics accused him of being patronising towards smaller restaurants run by immigrant families, and he later issued an apology.

Meanwhile, in the UK, supermarket chain Marks and Spencer was accused of cultural appropriation after it produced a new vegan biriyani wrap, despite the Indian dish normally being served with rice and meat.

And Gordon Ramsay's new London restaurant, Lucky Cat, was criticised for selling itself as an "authentic Asian Eating House" - despite not having an Asian chef.

When did food become such a sensitive topic - and why does it provoke such strong reactions from both sides of the debate?


LULAC message replaces 'Used-Mexican' billboard some saw as racist

A LULAC billboard occupies the space Thursday where previously a controversial message had been posted.

Tom Reel /Staff photographer Show More Show Less

A LULAC billboard occupies the space Thursday where previously a controversial message had been posted.

Tom Reel /Staff photographer Show More Show Less

A billboard touting the League of United Latin American Citizens has gone up along a stretch of Interstate 35 between San Marcos and New Braunfels, replacing a political message designed to provoke that had been condemned as racist.

The company that owns the billboard gave the space to LULAC for free after it removed another sign on the same space saying, &ldquoUsed-Mexicans.&rdquo

Bearing the phrase, &ldquoJoin the League. America United&rdquo next to LULAC&rsquos red, white and blue shield, the billboard went up Thursday afternoon. It offers a web address and a phone number for text messages.

A national LULAC spokesman, David Cruz, said the group decided against putting up a confrontational message in response to the one it replaced.

&ldquoWe could have taken a tit-for-tat approach, but it would not have accomplished anything,&rdquo he said.

The previous advertisement&rsquos cryptic but controversial message was removed Sept. 14 after it spurred complaints from passing motorists and civil rights leaders. LULAC said the company, Turner Outdoor Advertising, had donated the billboard space to the organization effective immediately &ldquofor placement of a positive message.&rdquo

A call to the New Braunfels-based company was not returned Thursday.

New Braunfels City Manager Robert Camareno said in a statement posted to Facebook that local officials had fielded complaints about the &ldquoUsed-Mexicans&rdquo sign, and while it wasn&rsquot located within New Braunfels&rsquo city limits or its extraterritorial jurisdiction, he called it offensive and &ldquonot representative of our community&rsquos values.&rdquo

Those who followed the website suffixes .org, .com and .info. attached to the phrase saw dictionary-style definitions of &ldquoused&rdquo as &ldquodeceptively led into a relationship to gain something of worth&rdquo and &ldquono longer of value, depleted.&rdquo In bold letters, the sites define Mexicans as &ldquopeople of heritage that are good at what they do.&rdquo

The man who put up the billboard, Charles Abernathy, 55, of Houston, said in a previous interview the message was that Hispanics have been used by the Democratic Party, are conservative at heart and ought to vote for President Donald Trump. He denied it was racist but said, &ldquoIt&rsquos meant to be inflammatory.&rdquo Abernathy didn&rsquot return calls Thursday seeking comment on the LULAC replacement billboard.

Cruz, the LULAC spokesman, said the group decided to stress a message of unity rather than address the tone and substance of Abernathy&rsquos billboard, which Rodolfo Rosales, a state director with the group, described as a &ldquohate sign&rdquo that &ldquoreflects poorly on New Braunfels and its residents even though they had nothing to do with it.&rdquo

&ldquoWe really thought long and hard about it,&rdquo Cruz said. &ldquoThere were a lot of different opinions and thoughts, but in the end we had one word in mind, and that&rsquos the word that occupies a prominent position - united.

&ldquoAnd that was, to us, the most important message that we wanted the sign to convey - unity - and then we threw in America because we felt it was an important distinction that we&rsquore about uniting the country, not dividing the country,&rdquo he added.

&ldquoThis is a time to come together,&rdquo LULAC State District Director Felix Moreno said, &ldquonot be divided.&rdquo


Although Disney didn’t acknowledge whether the online uproar had influenced them to retract their trademark request, they were clearly paying attention. Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican-American editorial cartoonist, had expressed open disdain at what he called Disney’s “blunder,” creating “Muerto Mouse”—a cartoon criticizing said blunder—in response.

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz / Pocho.com

This wasn’t the first time Alcaraz had criticized Disney with his cartoons. After the trademark fiasco, Disney definitely caught wind of Alcaraz’s position, and in an effort to approach the upcoming Día de los Muertos movie with sensitivity, the company hired him to work as a cultural consultant on the film.

Although several folks celebrated this development, Alcaraz was widely denounced for collaborating with Disney—many people called him a “vendido,” accusing him of hypocritically selling out to the gringo-run monolith against which he had previously spoken out. But Alcaraz stood his ground, confident that his perspective would lend valuable influence to the movie and ultimately prevent Pixar from doing the Latinx community a disservice.

“Instead of suing me, I got Pixar to give me money to help them and do this project right,” Alcaraz said. “I was let down because I was hoping people would give me a little bit of credit for the stuff I’ve done to give me the benefit of the doubt.”

And, sin duda, Coco emerged as one of the most culturally accurate films that Disney has ever produced. Employing an almost exclusively Latino cast and crew, Coco seamlessly captured the beauty, magic, and wonder of Día de los Muertos, depicting the holiday with reverence and respect. And after becoming the top-grossing film of all time in Mexico, it’s safe to say that Coco helped Disney bounce back from its trademark mishap, even if more controversy is bound to emerge in the future.


Big Boy Restaurants

Along with the announcement of a new chicken sandwich, Dolly becomes the new food mascot for Big Boy Restaurants. The original Big Boy mascot is stepping out of the spotlight and the director of training Frank Alessandrini said the company wanted:

“to show that we’re still moving forward. We recognize the times that we’re in, hopefully, turning the corner in this pandemic and come out of it, but we want to set ourselves up for the future as well.”


Mexican Foods You&rsquove Never Heard Of

Menudo

Menudo is first because it&rsquos the least obscure Mexican food on this list. You&rsquoll likely find Menudo available at authentic Mexican restaurants all over the world! Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made from red chile and cow stomach.

If you&rsquore the sort of person who doesn&rsquot mind the spongey texture of tripe &ndash or knowing where it came from &ndash then menudo&rsquos rich broth is absolutely delicious.

But if you&rsquore the type who prefers not to eat cow&rsquos stomachs, then menudo may not be for you.

That said, many claim that it is the hands-down best hangover cure money can buy.

But most of the time I&rsquod rather have a torta ahogada (baguette-style sandwiches filled with fried pork and fresh onion, doused in spicy tomato sauce).

  • Author&rsquos Note: Jeremy, who is Mexican and grew up in a family that regularly wins Menudo cooking competitions, swears by Menudo and craves it on a regular basis. Lia, who is not Mexican, is not a fan of the tripe bits, although she loves the broth. We think an appreciation of Menudo might be a bit of an acquired taste!

Tacos Envenenados

Tacos are nothing revolutionary and everyone knows that the Mexican fondness for this soft tortilla, meat and sauce concoction knows no bounds (I can&rsquot stress enough how much hard taco shells are not Mexican).

However, if there&rsquos anything you can say about Mexico, it&rsquos that nothing is basic when it comes to Mexican dishes and there are a wealth of specialty, region-specific tacos that you can find in different parts of the country.

One of my favourite examples of this taco pride are the tacos envenenadosfrom Zacatecas, which literally translates to poisoned tacos.

But don&rsquot freak out: the only poisoning you&rsquoll be at risk at after eating tacos envenenados is a cholesterol overdose because my god are they greasy. The tacos are stuffed with cheese and spicy chorizo and potatoes and refried beans, and then &ndash for good measure &ndash deep fried, for extra crunchiness and &ldquovenom.&rdquo Uh, YUM.

As the story goes, their name is meant to protect the secrecy of the ingredients. Or perhaps it&rsquos because they&rsquore so unhealthy, meant to warn you not to eat too many of them. But who knows? That story is just part of the mystery and the allure of tacos envenenados!

If you can&rsquot make it to Zacatecas to give these a try, you can always whip out your deep fryer and attempt to make them yourself.

Barbecued goat: it sounds a little off-putting, but it&rsquos actually delicious. Photo Credit

Cabrito

Cabrito is barbecued goat and a popular dish in all the northern states, but can principally be found in Nuevo León.

It may look wildly unappealing when you see it hung up before serving, but listen &ndash it&rsquos delicious.

One of the tastiest ways to try cabrito is barbacoa, which is slow-cooked barbequed meat. Traditionally, the goat meat is coated with spices, wrapped in leaves (primarily agave or banana leaves), and cooked in an underground oven &ndash essentially a hole in the ground filled with coals and covered &ndash for hours until the meat is succulent and tender.

The resulting broth, called consomé, is often drunk as an appetizer, and the flaky, juicy meat is used in tacos.

While the central states are well-known for the dish, barbacoa is prepared with regional variations throughout Mexico &ndash Oaxaca, for example, often uses oranges along with chilies to sweeten and flavor the meat.

  • Fun Linguistics Fact: The word &ldquobarbacoa&rdquo comes from the Taino, a native Caribbean tribe, and was then adopted by Spanish colonizers, eventually making its way to Texas, where it morphed into &ldquobarbeque!&rdquo

Carne en su Jugo

If you speak Spanish, and can understand exactly what carne en su jugo means, there&rsquos a chance this doesn&rsquot sound all that appealing. I mean, &lsquomeat in its juice&rsquo, who wants that?

DON&rsquoT BE DECEIVED, because carne en su jugo is, honestly, so, so delicious. It&rsquos like a watery meat stew and I know I&rsquom not selling it with that description but you&rsquoll just have to go with me.

Usually, you throw in a ton of fresh diced onion, cilantro, and spicy sauce before slurping it down and the best carne en su jugo in all of Mexico &ndash yes, prepare yourself because this is a bold claim &ndash is to be found at Guadalajara&rsquos Karne Garibaldi in Santa Tere.

Traditional Mexican quesadilla made from Huitlacoche, aka corn smut. It&rsquos one of the most obscure Mexican foods!

Huitlacoche

Corn smut. I&rsquom not being rude, that&rsquos what huitlacoche translates to.

That said: although I am personally not a fan of the taste, and the origin stories of huitlacoche don&rsquot exactly inspire my mouth to water, huitlacoche is hands-down one of the most unique Mexican delicacies!

Huitlacoche is actually an edible fungus that sometimes grows on organic corn (corn which isn&rsquot sprayed with fungicide), turning the corn kernels into blue-gray mushroom-like balls.

In the U.S. and many other countries, this fungus is actively destroyed (called &ldquocorn smut&rdquo), but in Mexico, it&rsquos considered a delicacy. Think of Huitlacoche like any other mushroom, with an earthy flavor sort of like a black truffle.

The flavor is described as smoky and earthy, almost like mushrooms and corn. It&rsquos also high in protein and quite good for you!

In Mexico you can find baskets of fresh huitlacoche in mercados. For the rest of you, look for huitlacoche as an ingredient in many high-end Mexican restaurants.

Tacos de Canasta

Another taco entry, that&rsquos one of the more popular variations found in Mexico but perhaps not as well known outside the country &ndash tacos de canasta, a.k.a. basket tacos. They&rsquore named as such because they&rsquore literally served out of a basket.

To be honest, it&rsquos for that reason I shied away from trying them for ages, even though they&rsquore super common in Mexico City, because everyone knows you shouldn&rsquot eat lukewarm meat products.

In the end, I ended up eating them outside a bar one night while mildly tipsy (FYI, this is the way all tacos should be eaten). Verdict? Amazing. I recommend you order the potato ones.

Tostada de Escamoles, also known as ant larvae. You might now find these on many menus in the States, but you can try this delicacy in Mexico City or Oaxaca!

Escamoles

Maybe you&rsquove heard about chapulines, a.k.a. grasshoppers, but many people fail to realise that they&rsquore not the only creepy crawlies that are part of Mexican gastronomy.

Everything from ant larvae &ndash that&rsquos what escamoles are &ndash to worms (chinicuiles) are pre-Hispanic delicacies on the streets of cities like Oaxaca and the upscale menus of trendy Mexico City restaurants.

Speaking of which, that worm at the bottom of your probably not-that-great-quality mezcal? That&rsquos called gusano de maguey, and yes, you can eat those as well!

A pambazo is a torta that has been dipped in Guajillo sauce and filled with potatoes and chorizo, then fried until crispy. Yum!

Pambazos

Only really available in chilangolandia (Mexico City), pambazos are essentially tortas &ndash soft, overstuffed sandwiches &ndash whose bread has been soaked in guajillo sauce prior to preparing and serving.

For that reason, they have a distinctive red colour and are typically filled with potato and chorizo.

Although nothing can live up to my love for Guadalajara lonches, crispy bread sandwiches served cold and stuffed with salad, meat and cheese (my favourite is ham and panela), these sure come close!

Pay de Elote can be found on street corners where you can often get a generous slice to go. This sweetcorn cake is also really easy to make at home with sweetened condensed milk, corn kernels, and a few other common ingredients! Photo Credit

Pay de Elote

Pay de elote is a cheesecake-esque dish with an intriguingly cool and creamy texture and a summery aftertaste of sweetcorn.

Corn (&lsquomaize&rsquo) is not just considered an ingredient in Mexico &ndash it has been an integral part of Mexico&rsquos culture, identity and cuisine since ancient times. First cultivated around 7,000 years ago, maize allowed early nomadic peoples to settle down, thereby fostering the development of early Mesoamerican cultures.

Since then, maize has continued to be an important and versatile part of Mexican cuisine &ndash you will see corn featured in a lot of art and in cultural celebrations. Even today, some Mexicans call themselves the &ldquopeople of the corn.&rdquo

As a Brit, I wasn&rsquot brought up with corn as a staple part of my diet &ndash I somehow always associate eating corn on the cob with butter rather than a biscuit crust. But sweetcorn, when properly done, is something truly special!

Other Mexican corn-based dishes to sample include sweetcorn ice cream and sweetcorn bread. Yum!

Pay de Elote can be found on street corners as well, where you can often get a generous slice to go. This sweetcorn cake is also really easy to make at home with sweetened condensed milk, corn kernels, and a few other common ingredients &ndash try out this great recipe!

  • Photo Credit

Pulque

Pulque is kind of, not really, definitely not even an obscure Mexican food, but rather an obscure Mexican alcoholic beverage.

Pulque is a milk-colored, fermented alcoholic drink made from the sap of the agave plant, with a sour and yeasty flavor. It&rsquos actually insanely healthy and is filled with all sorts of minerals and vitamins.

Pulque&rsquos history is ancient: it&rsquos a traditional drink that has been drunk for thousands of years by the Maya, Aztecs, and other Mesoamerican cultures. Used in important festivals and celebrations, pulque was often featured in Mesoamerican mythology &ndash one story has the drink originating from the powerful deity&rsquos, Quetzalcoatl, wish to give humanity greater happiness.

But, despite its long and important history, given its unstable consistency as well as production and storage methods that make it practically impossible to export further than the central regions of Mexico where it&rsquos produced, this this unique Mexican drink is little known and lives in the shadow of big brothers Tequila and Mezcal. So, you&rsquoll just have to go to Mexico and try it yourself.

Pulque can be served at different strengths &ndash some kids drink the sweet, lightly-fermented version &ndash as well as different flavors and fruits. Try it in &lsquopulquerias,&rsquo where they only sell pulque and will often let you sample different flavors before you commit to a whole glass &ndash start with a taste of the curado form, where it comes with an added flavor like mango or tamarind! Pulque is also used in cooking in some areas &ndash try out Carne en Pulque if you are in Jalisco.

Drinking it certainly makes for an interesting experience, but one that you can&rsquot leave Mexico without having!


Taco Tuesday: Blurring The Line Between Appreciation and Appropriation

Tacos are all the rage nowadays. Yuppies flock to cool taco trucks, hipsters love to discover hole-in-the wall taquerias and foodies can’t get enough of trendy taco restaurants — it’s all so much fun! I’ve seen “upscale” and “gourmet” taco restaurants open up all over Texas that are backed by large corporations and usually benefiting only white people. Hell, the people demanded a taco emoji (granted, a white-centric one) and received it because people love tacos so much.

The American palate is expanding and tasting untasted territory all the time through talented chefs creating and experimenting with new flavor profiles and through cuisines introduced by immigrants from all over the world. It’s really cool that we can try Vietnamese, Dominican, Thai, Peruvian, Ethiopian and a swarm of other “ethnic” foods in most urban cities, but sometimes embracing another culture can blur between appreciation and appropriation. I totally want others to enjoy tacos and buy tacos, especially from Mexican people who make them, because they’re so delicious and an integral part of Mexico’s identity. When it comes down to it, you don’t automatically appreciate Mexican culture by virtue of eating tacos — you have to be down with la raza.

There’s a bad taste in my mouth when white restaurant owners co-opt tacos for profits and white foodies venture for the most “authentic” tacos as a badge to show off their own expansive tastes because in both cases they’re taking parts of a culture they enjoy and commodifying it, all while disregarding the parts they don’t care for. Immigration, low-wage jobs in the food and farm industries and gentrification, just to name a few, are issues that concern Mexicans/Americans, the very people that created the tacos. Do white people eating tacos care for rights of the undocumented worker preparing their next Instagrammable plate? Can the Mexican cooks, waitresses, busboys, dishwashers and staff who work at these restaurants afford to eat the food? When taquerias owned by Mexicans don’t conform to white people’s tastebuds or standards of appearance, will its food be acclaimed?

The interactions between white people and Mexican food has always been fucked. Before it became popularized in the U.S., Mexican food was thought of too exotic, dangerous and spicy to be eaten. Food historian Jeffrey Pilcher points out these ideas have reinforced racist images of Mexicans. “People use food to think about others, and popular views of the taco as cheap, hot, and potentially dangerous have reinforced racist images of Mexico as a land of tequila, migrants, and tourist’s diarrhea.” My family has experienced the impact of these racist ideas. I wrote in the first Taco Tuesday column about how my mom was embarrassed to eat the tacos my grandmother prepared for her school lunch in front of her classmates. Immigrant food has always been scorned for being the other and for not conforming to American culture. It wasn’t till Glenn Bell, the founder of Taco Bell stole the crispy taco recipe from the Mexican American restaurant across the street from his hot dog stand that Americans were open to eating tacos. Ever since the taco was introduced to the American mainstream, the Mexicans behind the taco have been exploited.

Today tacos are ubiquitous, come in a variety of price points, creations and fusions. Now white people aren’t afraid of eating most tacos since Taco Bell got them well acquainted. Some have even graduated to wanting more “authentic” versions. Now in foodie culture, people are obsessed with authenticity of “ethnic” food which can be just as problematic. They want to eat at the taqueria where all the Mexicans eat at because that must mean it’s authentic. They want to be the first ones to report on the crazy fillings they tried at the badass taqueria, like grasshoppers, ant eggs, veal brain or tripe. They get to prove their worldliness when they eat tacos. When I say I love tacos, I’m a Mexican girl cliche but when a white person loves tacos they’re with it, they’re in the know.

Ruth Tam writes in The Washington Post about the “sting” of this kind of cultural appropriation. Growing up, she was ashamed of her family’s Cantonese food but now the same food is touted as the latest trend. The same dishes being hyped up are the ones that were looked down on when cooked by her family in their homes. She points out how immigrant food is treated in the U.S.

“In the United States, immigrant food is often treated like discount tourism — a cheap means for foodies to feel worldly without leaving the comfort of their neighborhood — or high-minded fusion — a stylish way for American chefs to use other cultures’ cuisines to reap profit. The dishes of America’s recent immigrants have become check marks on a cultural scavenger hunt for society’s elite.”

I frequent various taquerias around East and South Dallas, each one of them different and great in their own way. One of them is El Come Taco that serves up tasty traditional D.F. tacos like al pastor and alambre tacos and other street fare like tortas and pambazos. The place is owned by a really nice dude named Luis Villalva, who runs it with his family. You can find his mom in the back cooking meats on the flattop and his sister usually is the one who takes our orders. The tacos at this place are fucking delicious, there’s no doubt about it. The cabeza I usually order is always tender and seasoned just right while the salsas they tailor make to accompany different tacos are full of kick that takes the whole thing to the next level.

This taqueria stands out from the rest not only because of their amazing food but because of their well-designed, bright space and welcoming atmosphere, which is very — as the Dallas Observer puts it — “taqueria chic.” Their hot pink logo is the white outline of a calavera with a big sombrero and mustache which is also branded on their blond tabletops. You can find caged filament bulbs, exposed ductwork, distressed-looking walls and magenta and lime green accented walls throughout the restaurant while a sleek white front counter awaits you when you order. It’s a win-win situation for the gentrifiers in the area, they get great “authentic” food without having to deal with the unwanted brownness of a shitty looking taqueria.

Don’t get me wrong, I love eating at El Come and I whole-heartedly support this local, Mexican-owned business that is succeeding and making a name for themselves. I just wonder if this restaurant would be so lauded and popular with Dallas’ yuppies, foodies and hipsters if it weren’t for it’s stylish appearance — a sanitized version of a typical taqueria that is comfortable enough for a white person to dine at. The Dallas Observer writes in their review of El Come: “With a slick décor and a warm demeanor El Come updates what can typically be a little rough around the edges, and without losing a shred of character or authenticity.” Yelp reviews of the place echoes the same sentiment: “one of the nicer taco shops in the neighborhood””Clean and modern””Compared to taco spots a few blocks away, it felt very clean, well designed and with a bit of a hipster feel.” What all these reviews imply is that El Come Taco’s design strips away racist connotations associated with “ethnic food” like uncleanliness that leads to sickness or a rundown shop that in turn caters to low-income folks who are usually brown — but, their tacos are totally legit.

Just to put things in perspective, I also eat at Taqueria Conin and Tacos La Banqueta found in the same area, which serve the same D.F. style street tacos — sans the chic design. Taqueria Conin is tiny and there’s nothing more than the big flat top stove where the taquero is cooking and a bar against a yellow brick wall with only 5 barstools. At Tacos La Banqueta there’s more seating but also is no frills when it comes to the ambiance. The tacos at both these establishments are extremely tasty and keep me coming back for more every time. The way I would rank these three taquerias would be: 1. Tacos La Banqueta 2. El Come Taco 3. Taqueria Conin, to give you an idea of how good they are in relation to each other. The fact is all three of these places serve damn good tacos. But because Conin and Banqueta are unabashedly found in a low-income neighborhood with mostly Latino patrons it is equaled to grungy and dirty, when that’s really not the case. Like reviews about El Come Taco, Yelp reviews for Conin and Banqueta remark on the appearance and location but then weirdly tokenize the “authenticity” of these places. Take a look at the ones for Conin: “Forget the gritty image on the outside, the place was fairly clean on the inside, albeit not exactly pretty…but the Tacos were a thing of beauty!” “Don’t let the run-down nature of the area/building dissuade you this place is awesome.” And the ones for Banqueta: “Don’t let the outside of this place detour you. This little East Dallas taqueria is legit.” “I do have to say, the neighborhood may scare some people off, personally I’ll go anywhere for good food, but be sure to lock your car. Just sayin…””It appears family run and there is only one who can barely speak English. But this only adds to the experience and authenticity.” Oh yes, white Yelp reviewers, you’re real troopers for braving the sketchy taco places. Good thing you don’t actually have to live there with all those brown, poor people, you can just eat and then leave. I’m not saying you shouldn’t write Yelp reviews for locally owned Mexican businesses, they need all the help they can get, but focus on what’s important — the food.

Phylisa Wisdom writes in Render magazine about gastrodiplomacy, “using the eating, preparation and study of food to improve cultural understanding and diplomacy” and brings up some really good points and questions when thinking about our interactions with food from another culture.

“We can be lovers of Mexican food and also be responsible gastrodiplomats. They are not mutually exclusive, but it does require selectivity and a code of eating ethics. Each diner must live his or her own code of eating ethics independently, and think critically about what we want to get out of our dining experience. Everyone involved in the buying, selling, production and consumption of food is an active player how do we want our choices and behaviors to impact their experience along the way? Those of us who are not Mexican or Mexican-American don’t have to sacrifice Mexican food, and in fact we shouldn’t. But, we can challenge ourselves to think critically about the difference between experiencing culture and claiming it. We can acknowledge histories of oppression and colonialization, and make sure that our business transactions in restaurants are fair and equitable.”

In theory, we should strive to think more critically when eating food from another’s culture in order to get an understanding of it. When choosing restaurants, we should question who is staffed at the restaurant, who created the recipes and if the creators were fairly compensated, and gauge a restaurant’s understanding of the culture through the way it presents itself. For ages, white people have been eating scrumptious tacos with abandon, all while exploiting and degrading thousands of Mexican undocumented and documented workers who contribute to making it for them. More than 70 percent of U.S. farm workers are foreign born, mostly Mexican, and half of them are undocumented. An estimated 1.4 million people out of the 12.7 million workers in the restaurant industry are undocumented according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And according to the Pew Hispanic Center about 20 percent of the nearly 2.6 million chefs, head cooks and cooks are undocumented while 28 percent of dishwashers are undocumented. Only 20 percent of restaurant jobs pay a living wage, and women, people of color, and immigrants are often excluded from these living-wage positions. The reality of the Mexican people behind making your fancy ass tacos at a white-owned restaurant / the bomb ass tacos made at a Mexican-owned restaurant are tough for many reasons: low wages, irregular hours, no sick days, paid vacations or paid breaks and if they’re undocumented, they must carry the extra burden of always working hard, so as not to lose their job or be threatened with deportation. Even then there’s a difference between the economic situation of taco restaurants owned by white people and Mexican family-owned taquerias who employ Mexican undocumented workers. Unlike their counterparts, white restaurant proprietors more than likely have the resources and the leverage to pay their workers a living wage — especially when their food is meant for the consumption of other privileged people who can pay more for the food than Latino patrons at Mexican-owned taquerias — but decide not to in order to make even more profits. You could say that the well-being of Mexican workers are not as valued as the tacos they’re selling.

So why is all this relevant to your taco eating? Phylisa Wisdom articulates it the best: “The diplomatic food lover understands that in order to be in solidarity with the people preparing food, creating recipes, and providing a ‘cultural experience,’ we must pay them fairly and prioritize their human rights.” At the heart of it all, we need to just be decent humans. We need to treat people and their cultures with respect and not just take the parts that benefit us while still being prejudice toward the people it came from. If you love tacos, support the people making them for you, especially from Mexican-owned taquerias. If you’re a foodie seeking the most authentic tacos out there, don’t pretend like you have a deeper understanding of Mexican culture or think you’re more cultured for being “adventurous”(aka out of your privileged comfort zone) in your taco or restaurant choices. After all, Mexicans can’t divide their brownness when eating a taco and white people won’t ever experience all the implications that come with that brownness. If you really do love the gift of tacos my people gave you, every last delicious morsel of them, the least you can do is to challenge yourselves to think critically between experiencing culture and claiming it and avoid co-opting our food and traditions.


Delany's old posts prompted a response from Baraghani, but they included more than just his use of a homophobic slur

Delany was caught in a flurry of resurfaced posts that painted him as insensitive. For one — a picture of a Confederate-flag cake Delany says he posted to Tumblr when he was 17 — he immediately apologized.

But other posts, including an old Vine of Delany using a homophobic slur (he refers to a pile of sticks as "a bunch of f------ lying on top of each other"), were left unaddressed until now. Delany never responded to Insider's request for comment.

"When I was in high school and college, I wrote and said things that were racist, homophobic, and sexist on the internet," Delany wrote in his apology. "I want to be clear that it isn't anything less than those things. There is no gray area. That's what they were. And for those things I said and wrote, I am incredibly sorry."

Baraghani, Bon Appétit's senior food editor, posted a lengthy statement in June about Delany's resurfaced Vine to his own Instagram story, writing that it was "hurtful and triggering and all too familiar."

In his full statement, Baraghani wrote:

"There is a vine circulating around the internet in which my colleague, @alex_delany, uses a gay slur. I don't know how much more hurt I can take at the moment. But the video was hurtful and triggering and all too familiar. The word takes me back to being bullied and harassed as a kid. To my adult years dealing with the kind of toxic masculinity that I experienced in kitchens and the workforce. It's not a term I will tolerate. It's never appropriate. The word's sting has brought nothing but pain in my life and to so many in the queer community.

"After I saw the video, I reached out to Delany. I wanted to connect with him privately before addressing it on social media. Hear him out. Hear his reflections. Hear his desire to change. Make it very clear why his words were disgusting and painful.

"Then I reached out to my queer BA colleagues to hear their thoughts. What they were feeling. Assess what is actionable and what is valid. We know Delany will have to respond to that video on his own. I'm not one to put someone on blast to millions of people. I want to have a dialogue, not just with people that have always been aligned with my beliefs but people who may feel differently or have changed over time. I want an open conversation. I know we may hold each other to standards that at times feel impossible to reach. I want to be capable of compassion.

"I know I have a platform where my voice is heard by many. As someone who is a first generation Iranian-American queer, I'm aware of what I can do for my POC and LGBTQ+ family. I can speak up for you. I can work with my colleagues to make more positive changes here. There is clearly far more to be done. I'm taking some time to think about impactful ways to shed more light, and make more space, for POC and LGBTQ+ in food media."

In addition to his old Vine, some old tweets and more old Tumblr posts of Delany's also resurfaced that show an objectifying view of women.

"I did not check–or even consider thinking about–my tone or my thoughts," Delany wrote in his apology. "Words written by the hand of someone who does not acknowledge the space outside their own experiences aren't words that should ever be written. There's no room in this world for them."

"But I wrote them on Tumblr and Twitter anyway. I wrote callously and disrespectfully about women and cultures that were not mine, without any understanding of the weight that those words carried. My words were not only hurtful but idiotic, typed by someone with a complete lack of emotional intelligence."


Calling an Indigenous person an "Indian."

How this can be hurtful: There is such a complex history and narrative with Indigenous Americans who are caught between dehumanizing exoticism and the false perceptions of exploiting government “hand-outs.” Any kind of explicit language, comments or questions reflecting either of these points of view can be problematic. However, it can also be subtly disempowering to call people by a name given to them by their colonizers, rather than using the names that they call themselves.

According to a 1997 survey of Native American college and high school students, reported in Native Americas, more than 96% identified themselves with their specific indigenous nation, and only a little more than half of these youths identified themselves as American citizens. While most of us are not going to be able to discern between indigenous ethnic groups, we should be able to perceive the difference between a person descended from India (an Indian) and a Native person.*

How to better align our language with our intentions: “He is Indigenous” or “he is Native” are better options. Using this language at least acknowledges the connection between indigenous heritage and the land that comprises the United States of America.

*It is worth noting that native is a term that can be used pejoratively, but generically it means “first.”


Local restaurant owner defends name amid claims it’s a racial slur

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Attorney Jesse Quackenbush, owner of “Big Beaners” restaurant in Amarillo is defending the name of his establishment after some people have said it is a derogatory term.

In the video above you can see the name of the restaurant on the sign. Quackenbush said the name originated with the Latin American beans they sell at the store.

“We knew that we were going to sell specialty bean dishes from Latin America so we wanted something that would connect our main product which is breakfast burritos and specialty bean dishes with coffee,” said Quackenbush.

Quackenbush explained many people think there is nothing wrong with the name. He said some members of the community have reached out to him.

Quackenbush also told us about an interaction he had with the Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Local League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) over the name of the restaurant.

“I was called by Abel Vasquez [president of Amarillo chapter of LULAC],” said Quackenbush. “I started to get a lecture about what LULAC did to the Frito-Lay Corporation because of Frito Bandito back in the 1960s and 1970s. That basically was his attempt to strong-arm me with a veiled threat of litigation to ruin my business, and I told him that he and whomever else he represented can go f*** themselves and go to Starbucks if they don’t like my business.”

We were able to also speak to Bosquez about his thoughts on the restaurant’s name.

“Sometimes I come across it. When they say ‘beaner,’ they’re talking about Mexicans,” said Bosquez. “A call [complaining about the restaurant] that I received, the person said, ‘It’s offensive because they are talking about Mexicans as ‘beaners.””

Bosquez said it is not only the name that is offensive. He said the logo is also offensive to Mexican-Americans.

Quackenbush rebutted by explaining that if people took the time to look at the sign and look at the restaurant’s menu, there should be no confusion on the meaning of the name.

When we asked if Quackenbush had any plans of changing the name, he said, “If I would have been approached nicely by LULAC, if I would have been approached nicely by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce instead of threateningly. In other words, threatening to strong-arm me into something different, I might have reconsidered.”

We did reach out to the Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AHCC) on Thursday, but they were unavailable for comment. Friday, the AHCC released a statement. Read the full statement below:

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