Budding American food fight: Let’s taco ’bout it!

Fresno’s Héctor Cortez bites into a carne asada taco from La Jacko Mobile at the 2016 Taco Truck Throwdown in Fresno.
Fresno’s Héctor Cortez bites into a carne asada taco from La Jacko Mobile at the 2016 Taco Truck Throwdown in Fresno. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Want a great laugh?

Here’s what Fox News show host Tucker Carlson said recently about tacos: “It’s American food. It’s American! What do you think? You own tacos now or something?”


That’s like saying sushi is as American as fried catfish!

Or, that sirachi sauce belongs in the U.S. condiment hall of fame along with ketchup and mustard!

Or, making the case that pupusas were invented by a housewife in Ohio!

Carlson has come under much ridicule for his suggestion that one of the most basic part of a Mexican diet is an “American food.”

Throw out the meat and potatoes and serve me some carne asada tacos!

After all, didn’t George Washington cross the Delaware while munching on a tripas taco?

Didn’t Babe Ruth hit prodigious home runs after wolfing down some birria tacos?

Didn’t John F. Kennedy pen ‘Profiles in Courage’ while eating some tacos de ceso?

Betsy Ross sewed Old Glory for hours thanks to the energy from some adobada tacos!

Yes, tacos are as American as hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet!

Mr. Carlson got into his food argument with a Univisión television anchor, and the debate was more about immigration than about gastronomy. However, let’s get to Carlson’s alternate universe of all things related to Mexican food.

Here’s my two centavos’ worth: Tucker is correct!

But because of the wrong reason.

Before you scream “¡Tío Taco!,” pull up some chips and guacamole and let me explain.

Tacos have taken over this country, much like Juan and María have become the most popular baby names in some states. Or, how a few years ago telenovelas generated greater viewership in Los Ángeles; or, how Mexican filmmakers – Alfonso Cuáron (‘Gravity’), Alejandro González Iñárritu (‘Birdman’ and ‘The Revenant’) and Guillermo del Toro (‘The Shape of Water’) – have directed four of the last five Oscar-winning movies.

Now, tacos (with an estimated 4.5 billion chowed down every year) haven’t overtaken hamburgers (50 billion) or hot dogs (20 billion) as the top choice in the American diet. But, Americans are in love with the lowly taco.

In fact, Oct. 4 is set aside as National Taco Day. We’re sure Mr. Carlson will be thrilled to discover that.

If salsa has overtaken mayonnaise and mustard as America’s top condiment, then tacos will soon rub elbows with burgers and hot dogs.

Avocado consumption in the U.S. is expected to hit 50 million pounds per week by next year – holy guacamole! Did you know the U.S. is the greatest consumer of avocados, ahead of México?

Plus, did you know the U.S. is home to the largest population of Spanish speakers? Sí, just behind México. People whose job is to study this predict that in about 30 years, this country will more hispanoparlantes than any other country!

You see Mr. Carlson, it’s not that the U.S. introduced the taco, the avocado, salsa, español, those great movies and other things that have become American favorites.

It’s just that those great additions to American life made their way over here and have become part of America. It’s been a silent revolution that has been fought by taste buds, eyes and ears!

Churros are at the ballpark, and at Disneyland.

Hasta la vista!” is a favorite movie quote ... uttered by an immigrant from Austria!

Newer generation of American television viewers identify with Dora the Explorer.

What’s next? Taco trucks on every corner?

Juan Esparza Loera has been editor of Vida en el Valle since it was first published in August 1990. Send comments, suggestions or questions to: jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com