Category Archives: El Paso

Lucy’s Café and a Brief History of the First Gourmet Taco

TacosAntonioPhotoJaimeCastañeda

Tacos Antonia/Photo: Jaime Castañeda

“The traditional taco has to be fried,” declared The Brownsville Herald in 1950. It might be surprising that a newspaper from a Texas border town with a large Mexican and Mexican-American population would print such a statement. But it shouldn’t. Although there are stateside references to filled and folded tortillas through the 19th century, the first print references to the taco in the United States goes back to the turn of the 20th century. First, in an 1898 travelogue that was published in the Los Angeles Times a couple of years later, and then in 1914 when Bertha Haffner-Ginger included a recipe in her California Mexican-Spanish Cookbook. In 1922, a taco recipe appeared in the Castelar Crèche Cook Book. Both recipes called for the taco to be fried. As a matter of fact, scads of published material defined a taco as a meat-filled folded tortilla that is fried. It is perhaps the greatest joke played on those who insist a taco starts with a soft corn tortilla. Continue reading

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Filed under Brownsville, El Paso, History, Texas