Tacopedia by Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena explores the many elements that make up everyone’s favorite food, TACOS! This book unravels the taco’s many incarnations and origins. Tacopedia is the best possible name for this book: sprinkled with facts, anecdotes and illustrations, Tacopedia is a super interesting read. There is no overarching narrative, which makes it great for reading small chunks over time. Much like Encyclopedia Britannica, there is no way to digest all the information that makes up this book. It is an awesome work that dives deep into taco culture and is simply fabulous for taco-philes like myself.
The book is broken down into 3 parts: 1) Whetting Your Appetite, 2) It’s Taco Time, and 3) Meet the family. Part 1 focuses on the origins of the taco. Filled with awesome images and descriptions, this section gives readers a great introduction to the taco. This section describes multiple strands of corn among other ingredients that are used to create to tortillas. There are also illustrations of animals and the cuts of meats that are used for different types of tacos.
Part 2 – It’s Taco Time – is the real meat of the book. (get it :p) This section breaks down all the aspects that make up the many types of tacos. Holtz and Mena describe the preparation of each taco. For example, there is a description of al pastor tacos. They go into detail about origins including where the upright grill as well as the inclusion of pineapple. The book also lists their favorite spots in Mexico to taste al pastor tacos.
Part 3 – Meet the Family – focuses on dishes that are variations on tacos. These dishes include enchiladas, quesadillas, and tlayudas. They describe some regional origins as well as regional specialties.
It’s amazing how much one dish can encapsulate a culture. While it seems like an ambitious project to take on, it all works in Tacopedia. There is history, there are recipes, and there are restaurant recommendations in the book. I think this is a great resource for people looking to learn more about tacos and Mexican cuisine.