Saturday, July 21, 2012

Writer Changes His Style - and I Thought It Couldn't Be Done

"Taco USA - How Mexican Food Conquered Ameria" by Gustavo Arellano   Scribner   310 pages   $25

I loved Arellano's first book "Ask A Mexican."  It was a collection of his columns of the same name which has a circulation of more than 2 million in 38 markets.  The book's answers to what could only be considered rude questions scandalized me.  "Polite people would never ask that!" (gasp)  Arellano's book considerably improved my language skills in vulgarity, Mexican style, which was appreciated.

This book is nothing like that one.  It is a scholarly quest to answer such as:  what is authentic?  What is Tex-Mex? What is "Taco Bell" and does it even matter?

The author remarks in the frontispiece, "It's a little-known history, one that's crept up on this country like your Mexican neighbors - and left us better for it."

Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell, ran his idea past his wife, who snorted that white people wouldn't eat tacos - too spicy.  To which he responded that he'd tone it down.  She then said that Mexicans wouldn't eat them!  She later divorced him.

Chi-Chi's founders, Marno McDermott and Max McGee, a former Green Bay Packer's star, started Chi-Chi's in Minnesota.  Interestingly enough, Chi-Chi was McDermott's wife's nickname, but it's also crude Mexican slang for breasts.

That's the kind of history I like!  The human touches.  I recommend it.

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