This author appeared at the 2012 festival. Please view the list of authors appearing at this year's festival or see our suggestions for similar authors below.
As late as the 1960s, tacos were virtually unknown outside Mexico and the American Southwest. So how did this tasty hand-held food become so ubiquitous? Jeffrey M. Pilcher’s Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food traces the historical origins and evolution of Mexico's national cuisine, explores its incarnation as a Mexican American fast-food, shows how surfers became global pioneers of Mexican food, and how Corona beer conquered the world. From a taco cart in Hermosillo,Mexico to the "Chili Queens" of San Antonio and tamale vendors in L.A., Planet Taco follows this highly adaptable cuisine, paying special attention to the people too often overlooked in the battle to define authentic Mexican food: Indigenous Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Pilcher is particularly enlightening on what the history of Mexican food reveals about the uneasy relationship between globalization and authenticity, arguing that the contemporary struggle to determine the authenticity of Mexican food goes back hundreds of years. During the nineteenth century, indigenous foods were scorned as unfit for civilized tables. Only when Mexican American dishes were appropriated by the fast food industry around the world did Mexican elites rediscover the foods of the ancient Maya and Aztecs and embrace the roots of their national cuisine. “Folks looking to supplement their favorite meal with some food for thought need look no further,” Publishers Weekly writes. Pilcher is Professor of History at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Que vivan los tamales!: Food and the Making of Mexican Identity;The Sausage Rebellion: Public Health, Private Enterprise, and Meat in Mexico City; and Food in World History. He also edited the Oxford Handbook of Food History.