Author comes to UH, promotes book on history of Mexican food
November 19, 2012
Americanized Mexican food has dominated the country, said Author Gustavo Arellano in his new book “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.”
Arellano — best known for his ¡Ask a Mexican! column in OC Week — came to UH last Thursday to promote his novel and talk about the effect of Mexican food on America.
Arellano’s humor was a great medium for presenting the information in his book, said Monica Perales, associate professor of history.
“We knew about the book, and we were really excited about (not only) the way he looks at Mexican food from a historical perspective, but the way he used humor and the way he engaged the public to really think about what food can tell us about culture and history and society,” Perales said.
The lecture was the first in this year’s “Food for Thought” series. It was started by Perales and Todd Romero, another history associate professor. The Gulf Coast Food Project, El Paso Corporation Lecture Series and the UH Center for Mexican-American Studies collaborated to bring Arellano to UH.
“We wanted to bring in a really diverse audience. So we were hoping to bring in obviously students and faculty from UH but also bring the community in, so they could get a sense of the kind of interesting work that we’re interested in at UH, to highlight the kind of things we’re working on,” Perales said. “But also to have a really neat conversation about these kinds of ideas and issues.”
Arellano talked about himself and his book before answering questions and conducting a signing.
Nutrition junior Jeff Clark said he was excited to learn more about the food he loves.
“I came because I really had a heart for Mexican food, it’s not only a delicious thing to eat but it’s also very near and dear to my heart. I came to learn more about it and to enrich my understanding of it,” Clark said.
“It is not just about the food, it’s about the people you serve and how you treat those people.”
The subject of the book is unique, Arellano said.
“No one had ever written a subject just touching on all the various phenomena involving Mexican food in the United States,” Arellano said.
“There have been smaller studies and smaller books, but on a national scale no one had done it. As a reporter, I always try to do stories that no one else has done — it was natural. The fact that it had to be on Mexican food, a subject that I love, was almost incidental.”