Tacos are universally loved, and the most common and popular Mexican dish. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re hand-held, delicious bundles of meat, cheese, veggies and sauces. The origin of tacos is unknown. A popular theory is that the name came from the silver mines in Mexico. Who invented the taco is not known, however it is assumed that the taco was a Mexican dish before the arrival of Europeans.
The word “taco” referred to small pieces of explosives that miners would use to excavate the ore. Tacos were small amounts of gunpowder wrapped in pieces of paper. They were placed inside the rock faces in the mines. While it is not known when tacos became a food, the word taco is fitting for meat wrapped in a small tortilla.
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Traditional tacos are typically thought of as tortillas with beef, salsa or other sauces and maybe a small amount of cheese and vegetables. However, it is believed that fish tacos gained popularity during the times of early European settlers in Mexico, who documented their love of eating fish tacos.
Tacos are now a universal dish, with many variations, and can be found in nearly every country around the world. From street food, to restaurants, sweet and savory, many countries and cultures have adopted a signature taco to call their own. From bowls, salads, and hard and soft shelled tacos, one could easily travel around the world and experience new kinds of tacos in every stop. Here are just a few popular taco variations.
Travel the world one taco at a time
Tacos al Pastor
Created in the 1930s in Puebla, Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, tacos al pastor originally were called tacos árabes, and are made with meat cooked on an upright grill. Lebanese immigrants introduced Mexico to shawarma, which is roast lamb on a flour pita, also called pan árabe. Mexican shepherds over time used this technique to prepare marinated pork on vertical spits. Tacos al pastor means “shepherd style”.
Navajo tacos originated from the southwest United states, where the Navajo people are from. Fried bread, or bannock, is used instead of a tortilla, and are then filled with an assortment of meats and vegetables.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, Mr. Bannock is known for their classic bannock taco, which is made with fresh fry bread, house chili, salsa, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos and cilantro.
Tacos de Jamón
Spanish tacos reflect Spain’s culinary traditions. Tacos de Jamón are made with jamón, which is a dried and cured ham, that closely resembles Italian prosciutto.
This Korean-Mexican taco are usually serviced with fillings such as kimchi and bulgogi. Originating in Los Angeles as a street food, these Korean, Mexican hybrid became popular as a street food snack.
Tacos de Fritanga
These tacos, made in Mexico City are not for everyone. Made with pig’s brain that is slow-fried in lard, these tacos are fried. If pig’s brain is not for you, there are options with brisket or chorizo as well.
Known as a popular Tex Mex food, breakfast burritos came to be in America. Classic breakfast tacos (or burritos) consist of eggs, cheddar cheese, and breakfast meats such as bacon or sausage in a soft taco shell.