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The Question of Authenticity

A big question that has come up in my Taco Literacy class is the question of “authenticity” in Mexican food. We’ve discussed how this topic can be complicated given that the definition of “authenticity” can be applied differently to different people, but to truly say something is “authentic” has been debated that the people of the cuisine should be the ones preparing and serving the food. Even then however, it is complicated to even say this since Mexican cuisine was created from the mixing of cultures that happened back when the Spanish colonized what they named “Mexico” and large lands of Latin America. This this quote above, something that grabbed my attention was the language that Jeffery M. Pilcher uses in the beginning of chapter one in Planet Taco. He writes that there is a “sense of authenticity” which may not say much at first, but once reading into the chapter more the question of authenticity is arguably tested.

Here, there were many kinds of foods and livestocks that were imported into Mexico. Foods from Asia such as tamarind, mangoes, and coconut as well as cows, pigs, spices, and wheat from Europe changed the way how these foods had an effect on indigenous cuisine. A lot of foods in Mexican cuisine now, such as the cemita for example, has cheese, beef and onions which are three ingredients that came from Europe. This food is authentic to the Mexican peoples but the ingredients that helped create this sandwich has a history that makes the question of authenticity complicated. However, despite the histories of Spanish conquest having an effect on indigenous cuisine, the argument that it has a “sense of authenticity” is quite a fair statement to make given the boundaries foods have crossed.


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