Monday, December 30, 2013

Planet Taco by Jeffrey M. Pilcher

Planet Taco. A Global History in Mexican Food by Jeffrey M. Pilcher

Planet Taco is a scholarly look into the history of Mexican food.  Pilcher dares to ask the question, What is authentic Mexican food?  His research and travels take him into modern day Mexico and the Southwest of the United States.  Pilcher examines the Spanish conquistadors influence on Mexican food, as well as the influence of the different indigenous populations, the African slaves, and the influx of the Chinese.  Mexico doesn't seem to have a National food because their history is so varied and represented by many cultures.  Also the traditional food varies based on regional locations within Mexico and in the surrounding areas.

Planet Taco is exceptionally detailed and packed full of educational information.  Included in the book are pictures, maps and recipes.  Pilcher details the history of maize and wheat and taught me that people in the region of Mexico viewed those who ate corn tortillas as lower class (these were primarily indigenous peoples) and wheat tortilla eaters tended to be Spanish or upper class.  He details the rise of Chili Queens and Blue Corn and the American taco and so much more.

Planet Taco is a great book for those willing to put in the time and a great name for a future Mexican restaurant.  I can guarentee that you will learn a lot from reading this book.  The writing style is intellectual and studious and some people will feel like they are reading a textbook on Mexican food.  If you can put in the time to read Planet Taco, it is worth it.  This book would make an excellent companion for those traveling to Mexico for a vacation.

Caution:  This book will make you hungry for Mexican food.  I had three different Mexican style meals while reading this book.  Yum!