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From Breakfast To Barbacoa, New Book Dives Into American Tacos

Kristen Cabrera/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

They didn't originate here, but tacos are practically a food staple in Texas. And their popularity has grown beyond the state, and across the country. But that doesn’t mean Texans take their tacos for granted.

While writing his new book "American Tacos: A History and Guide," José Ralat, taco editor for Texas Monthly, says he wasn't surprised to learn that Texans still have a deep, enduring connection to the dish.

“Tacos are defined by their time and place,” he told Texas Standard in an interview Thursday. “They are a reflection of who we are via population shifts, market supply and demand. They are the manifestations of who and what we are and our desires, in this little dish.”

Nothing sums up this notion better than the (likely) most contested question among Texans: Which city has the best breakfast tacos?

“Everyone wants to claim the beauty that is the breakfast taco," he said. "Everyone sees it as their right these days. The fact of the matter is Austin, San Antonio, Corpus – no one owns that.”

But there is a region of Texas that holds a stronger connection to tacos than other parts of the state, especially breakfast tacos: the southern border.

“The breakfast taco is a border food. So it doesn’t necessarily belong to Texas, but it certainly is a Texas food,” he said.

Ralat said the reason people vie for their city's taco superiority is partly because of the food's growing popularity. He said everyone wants their city to have a role in a food culture that has caught fire globally.

But still, is there a place that could rightfully claim ownership of the breakfast taco?

“Yes, Mexico,” Ralat said.

Listen to the full interview in the player above.

Written by Kristen Cabrera.

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