Take Two for September 6, 2013

Taco recipes from the 1920s highlight the dish's long history in LA

Tacolandia2

Meghan McCarty

Birria taco from Flor del Rio in Boyle Heights. The restaurant serves just this one dish, and they've been doing so in the same location for over 10 years. Birria translates, literally, to "mess" and it can be made with any meat but this particular dish is made with slow cooked goat.

If L.A. had an official food, it would probably be the taco. You can find every manner of this tasty folded treat everywhere from fine dining restaurants to the corner of the Home Depot parking lot.

It turns out the taco has a long and storied history here in the city of Angels. The taco fanatics over at the L.A. Taco blog have unearthed some of the earliest recipes for this dish ever published in L.A.

Using Google's Ngram viewer — an app that can scan thousands of digitized books for keyword — Alex Blazedale of L.A. Taco Blog came across an interesting taco recipe from 1922. It sounds quite a bit different from the tacos we know today:

Put the tortillas in boiling lard and put in tomatoes mashed with onion and bits of garlic, cheese, cooked pork meat, alligator pear, salt and strips of peeled chiles. Roll and cover with a clean tortilla, hold together with a toothpick and fry in very little lard, in fact, just enough not to burn. To eat, take off the first tortilla -- Carlota L. Algara

 Angelenos might know the alligator pear by its more modern name, the avocado. 

"It sounds kind of strange, but not as strange when you figure that the word avocado comes from an Aztec word for testicle," said Blazedale. 

The oldest known L.A.-specific taco recipe is by Bertha Haffner-Ginger in 1914, cited by Gustavo Arrellano of the OC Weekly and author of the book, "Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America."  

She describes a taco as, "made by putting chopped cooked beef and chili sauce in a tortilla made of meal and flour; folded, edges sealed together with egg; fried in deep fat, chile sauce served over it."

Think you can recreate these recipes on your own? Give it a shot and post a pic on our Facebook page!

Old Time California-Spanish-Mexican Dishes: Recipes of Famous Pioneer Spanish Settlers


 


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