Tacos are one of the most famous dishes in Mexican gastronomy. Tacos are made with a tortilla, usually corn, which is filled with different ingredients. Although the most common fillings are meat, we find vegan versions or even with fish. But if there is one thing a good taco cannot be without, it is salsa. This dish has an incredible fame. It is known all over the world, but do you know its origin? Do you know who invented tacos? Stay with us to know the history of tacos.
Surely you all know Mexican tacos. Well, they are a dish that has literally gone around the world. It has become one of the most popular dishes of Mexican cuisine outside its borders.
And in Mexico there is no street where you can’t get a great taco. From the best tacos in gourmet restaurants, to more humble tacos but with all their essence, in street stalls that flood the streets.
History of Tacos, its beginnings
Although we do not know with certainty the origin of the Mexican taco, what is obvious is that the history of tacos begins with traditional tortillas. These flour-based elaborations, the tortillas, in ancient times were cooked on very hot stones. The people used them to serve their food on them, as if they were a plate. They were part of the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican diet, before the colonization of the Mesoamerican peoples.
We even know; thanks to the chronicles of Francisco de Aguilar, or Bernal Díaz del Castillo; that Moctezuma already used tortillas as a spoon to eat food without staining his hands.
At that time it was common to accompany these tortillas with cochineal, beans and chili. These three ingredients are still the basis of the Mexican diet today.
First historical reference of Mexican Tacos
In the Spanish book Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España (True History of the Conquest of New Spain) it is said that Hernán Cortés was the first to prepare a taquiza. Taquizas are celebrations where the main food is the taco. To celebrate the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Hernán Cortés and his namesakes prepared a great feast based on tortillas typical of the area, which they accompanied with pork on top.
In fact, many historians attribute the origin of tacos to an invention of Hernán Cortés, in the taquiza we mentioned before. Thanks to the clash of these two cultures, this popular food was born.
Some of the most popular tacos
Centuries later, this dish evolved to create countless varieties and versions of Mexican tacos. Some of the most popular tacos are the tacos acorazados, which originated in 1908 in Morelos.
In 1950 the tacos de canasta appeared in Tlaxcala. They are a popular preparation which includes potatoes, pork rinds, beans and adobo. All these ingredients, in addition to the tortilla, are dipped in melted lard. They are also called “tacos sudados” (sweaty tacos).
And finally, in 1966, tacos al pastor originated. That had its origin when one of the most important taquerias versioned the Lebanese shawarma. Although it is said that its origin was earlier, and that this restaurant only popularized a dish already invented in Mexico. These tacos originated with the arrival of Lebanese immigrants who, wanting to prepare one of their most typical dishes, shawarma, but using local ingredients, came up with tacos al pastor.
Tacos al pastor are undoubtedly the most popular version of Mexican tacos. In 2019 they were even elected the best food in the world by the gastronomic guide Taste Atlas.
The History of Tacos in our days
But what is it that has made tacos such a popular food? There is no corner of the world where this dish is not known, and even less where it is not associated with Mexican gastronomy.
And in Mexico, it is an essential food. It is valid at any time of the day, there is no time or place where a taco does not look good. Perhaps because of the convenience with which it can be eaten anywhere, or because it is so inexpensive, this dish has become an essential part of the Mexican diet.
But undoubtedly, what has given it the worldwide fame it enjoys today is its great variety of styles, types and flavors.
If you like Mexican food, don’t miss its most legendary sauce: guacamole. Here we leave you a simple and quick recipe to make one of the most popular sauces of Mexican gastronomy.
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