Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South

By Dania Vargas Austryjak

All you need to know on Tacos and understanding Mexico through its food is now available in an undergraduate course at the University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky opened up an undergraduate course where students can learn on cultural, social and economic practices regarding Mexican food and its iconic dish: the taco, in Kentucky and the broader South.

Steven Alvarez, an assistant professor in the university’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies department, is the person in charge of “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South.” This course will involve students with an important cultural element from Latino populations, which are in fact are rapidly growing in the state of Kentucky.

Carne Asada TacosOriginal Image: “Carne Asada Tacos” by James, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license, via Flickr.

The idea of creating such course is to get the students to grasp the idea revolving around the social element of food and foodways; this allows them to understand other factors from the culture such as social issues like immigration, intercultural communication, inequality, etc.; and at the same time they are able to obtain writing and evaluating techniques, and improve in journalism.

During the course, the students will be “examining transnational community food literacies and how these connect the stories of people and food across borders. We explore the history of networks of Mexican and Mexican-American food in Kentucky by writing about recipes and rhetoric that deal with things such as authenticity, local variations and preparations, and how food literacies situate different spaces, identity, and forms of knowledge.”, said Alvarez on an interview for Munchies.

tacos

For class assignments the students collect stories, do restaurant reviews, taco tours, posts on Instagram and WordPress. “With all of these assignments, my students are practicing different storytelling techniques and forms of collecting data. At the very end of the course, my students will be generators of knowledge, have a portfolio full of multimedia food journalism, and they will be over the fajita stage of Mexican food”, stated the assistant professor.

A course like this will help non-Latinos to understand on the intersection of food in Mexican culture, traditions, and history; and learn about the authentic food of Mexico

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