To say Gustavo Arellano is an animated speaker is a little like saying the desert can be hot. This first picture is intentionally blurry because it captures the energy that he displayed Tuesday night at LA Plaza. It was his first book signing for his new book Taco USA. And he shared that, even though he would be dealing with some grief for not having that first signing in the OC, he is the editor of OC Weekly, he felt the deepest roots of Taco USA were in L.A.
The history shared rolled from him to the audience at a pace that allowed for high fact absorption but at a pace that was a bit of a mental tickle. History was fun that night and you kept wanting more! In the course of about an hour, we enjoyed a semester syllabus’ worth of topics. Tamale trucks, canned tamales, Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy, Naugles, Chile con carne, Doritos vs. Tostitos, Disneyland, Cafe de Fritos, Jonathon Gold, El Tepeyac, and so much more. And then there was spent on the “…berto’s” restaurants.
I found the talk so palatable because all of the info on food and foodies was wrapped in historical context and humor. Olvera Street happened in part because of the earliest mobile food service – tamale wagons – too many of them. So the council relegated and regulated them much as was the effort a couple of years ago with food trucks.
The military was a proponent of Mexican food since it was portable and cheap to make. SW regional cooking was spread throughout the U.S. in part because Service men were here in the region, learned to love the food and then went home to other states. And they remained hungry for Mexican food. Needs will be filled.
Gustavo has been thinking about what he’s been eating for the last decade and has given the book an “Ask a Mexican” spin. Irreverent, tasty morsels of wit and wisdom, well done, and served in a colorful package. Try it, you’ll come back for seconds.