Taco Day: what is the origin of this food and since when is it celebrated

Tacos are an ancient food that has endowed the Mexican territory with a national identity. (Photos: Cuartoscuro)

Mexican gastronomy would not be the same without the presence of corn and its many facets that give society dishes such as pozole, chilaquiles and of course the tortilla, raw material to prepare tacos, one of the most acclaimed delicacies in the national territory, so much so that the March 31 is Taco Day.

It is a food that has made the Aztec seasoning known around the world. Your presentations are endless. since, strictly speaking, everything can be a taco. However, those who take the crown are those of pastor, barbecue, piglet, carnitas, birria and a long etcetera.

Various sources point out that the origin of this tradition goes back to the year 2007 and emerged thanks to a campaign launched by Televisa on the Canal de las Estrellas. Part of the strategy was to create a website (which currently no longer exists) with all kinds of curious facts about this food, such as: its pre-Columbian origin and the diversity of tacos in the country.

The Taco Day celebration was born in 2007 for a commercial.  (Photo: Freepik)
The Taco Day celebration was born in 2007 for a commercial. (Photo: Freepik)

The promotion was through a commercial that said: “Because everyone has their day: Taco Day, March 31.” To give it more publicity, an event was even held at the Azteca Stadium and there was a concert with a fair where all kinds of tacos were exhibited. It should be noted that this celebration did not only take place in Mexico City, because the same activities were replicated in the Papagayo Park located in Acapulco.

The acceptance of this commemoration was such that since then the tradition began to be resumed and it was agreed that this would be the date to celebrate al taco. Although it is necessary to emphasize that the response of the people was not by chance, because this food is already par excellence in the Mexican DNA.

The barbecue is one of the perfect stews to fill the tortilla and taste a delicious taco.  (Photo: Instagram/@barbacoa_mx)
The barbecue is one of the perfect stews to fill the tortilla and taste a delicious taco. (Photo: Instagram/@barbacoa_mx)

Some studies highlight that the name “taco” comes from the Nahuatl word tlaco, “which means “half” or “in the middle”, referring to the fact that a stew is served in the middle of the tortilla”. On the other hand, the Government of Mexico explains that its history begins with pre-Hispanic cultures, “having two references; the first mentions that Montezuma used tortillas to hold your food, forming something similar to the taco; the second was that the women, when the men went to work, sent them food wrapped in tortillas”.

In those times the food was not exactly as it is known today, since At that time there were no animals like the cow, the pig or the goat; the meat was extracted from quail, ducks, venison, pigeons, hares and rabbits or it was filled with vegetables such as beans, pumpkin and even chili.

Despite the fact that it was an everyday thing to eat a corn tortilla with some stew, Taquizas did not exist as such, in fact, it was Hernán Cortés who was in charge of popularizing these events. The information is known thanks to the book True History of the Conquest of New Spain of the Spanish chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo.

The origin of the taco dates back to pre-Hispanic times.  (Photo: Instagram/@birrieria_gomez)
The origin of the taco dates back to pre-Hispanic times. (Photo: Instagram/@birrieria_gomez)

It details how Cortés organized a small party in which offered attendees “tacos with multiple fillings extravagant that satiated anyone”.

This food never lost its cultural and social value, therefore, it became more and more popular until it managed to conquer the palate of the entire population. Nowadays it is common to see how the stalls that offer this delicacy are never lacking in the best-known corners of the neighborhoods.

The kitchen experts are still innovating in the content and preparation of this dish, since the Government of Mexico specifies that “in 2017 the ‘golden taco’ was born, one of the most extravagant tacos in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur; created by chef Juan Licerio Alcalá, which has among its ingredients an omelette made with edible gold foil, caviar, kobe beef, brie cheese, lobster, white and black truffle”.

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What is the origin of the barbecue and how did the recipe change after the Conquest
What is the origin of birria and what meat is ideal to prepare it
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