Culture

Meet The Gracious Family That The Creator Of Taco Bell Ripped Off

Any foodie with a Netflix subscription is at least aware of the Netflix original docu-series “Ugly Delicious.” Each episode takes a cultural look at staple foods like pizza, fried rice, and tacos. Hosted by David Chang, each episode is essentially a visual essay of a taken-for-granted cuisine. The team travels to the birthplace of the food and sees how it’s evolved in its different iterations around the world.

During the taco episode, the all-male team travels to San Bernadino, California to Holland to Mexico to understand what makes a good taco. They even go to Taco Bell and the restaurant that “inspired” the franchise.

Along for the ride is taco expert and Mexican-American foodie Gustavo Arellano.

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We first see the team driving around Los Angeles past rows of food trucks. When asked what are the tell-tale signs that set apart one taco truck from another, Arellano gives these non-Spanish speakers these pro tips:

  1. Find a menu that includes words you’ve never seen before. That means the food will be regional and not mass-produced.
  2. Go where the “salsa game is strong.” Especially if they’re just giving away roasted serrano peppers.
  3. Look for the homemade tortillas. If you see a bag of mass-produced tortillas in sight, walk away.

Chang is a New Yorker. He didn’t get tacos until he rolled through Los Angeles.

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“This is definitely much better than the ‘Taco Night in America’ type of taco,” he proclaims after a single taco de camarones. That’s because Mexicanos run LA taquerías, Mr. Chang.

Eventually, Arellano takes us to ground zero of the Taco Bell franchise.

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After a quick trip to Taco Bell, Arellano, who authored “Taco USA,” takes viewers to the eatery that inspired a now global fast food franchise meant to represent Mexican cuisine.

Mitla Cafe’s home is San Bernardino, a community born out of being a road-side stop off Route 66.

The restaurant has been around since 1937.

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At this point, the country is just edging out of the Great Depression. San Bernardino was heavily segregated. Mexicans were only allowed to live on the west side of the city, where Mitla first opened its doors.

The real story of Taco Bell begins with Lucia Rodriguez.

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She had emigrated from Tepatitlán, México to California and brought her recipes with her. According to her grandson and now the owner of Mitla, Michael Montaño, “These are her recipes. Those are the things that were available to her: ground beef, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and iceberg lettuce. She made it work.”

True to its original menu, Mitla has been a home base for immigrant assimilation.

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“When my grandmother opened the restaurant, she wanted to have American style food on the menu,” Montaño tells “Ugly Delicious.” “The first item on the menu is a T-bone steak.”

Mitla became a home base for the Mexican community to gather and strengthen. The story goes that the local activists that would take up booths at Mitla went on to form the Mexican Chamber of Commerce.

Taco Bell founder, Glen Bell, saw an opportunity and decided to steal the recipe.

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Bell would eat at Mitla every day after work, trying to deconstruct their taco. According to Gustavo Arellano’s book Taco USA, Bell befriended the staff and family at Mitla Cafe, eventually making his way into the kitchen to learn the family secrets.

Glen Bell was making hamburgers across the street, but the original McDonalds was creating competition.

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This guy was just looking for a way to make money. He knew how to make a hamburger, but McDonald’s was creating too much competition.

Bell opened up the first Taco Bell in Downey in 1962.

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With the start of a fast food franchise that would normalize and make Mexican food mainstream, Taco Bell was born. Now, the Montaño family recipes are met with criticism from Latinos who don’t know the story–that they serve fake Mexican food.

The original flavors, story, and heritage still reside in San Bernadino with the Montaño family.

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We are so glad Arellano asked Montaño, “How do you feel that your family’s recipe—your heritage—was taken by Glen Bell and turned into a multi-billion dollar empire?”

Montaño is ultimately proud that his family recipes have forever given America a little more flavor.

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“We don’t talk about it in the terms of what could have been or what he did to us or anything like that,” he tells Arellano. “It’s more of like look at our connection to the history of food in this country. When you hear stories of salsa being the No. 1 condiment, or that tortillas are right there next to the wonder bread … that’s what the country’s about.”

“That’s what the immigrant story is about—is assimilating but not only assimilating to the culture, but having that predominant culture assimilate some of your beliefs, some of what you do well and make it part of the general population.”

READ: Taco Bell Is Opening A Resort In Palm Springs And People Have Some Serious And Valid Questions

Mexico’s Beaches Are Still Full Of Crowds Celebrating Semana Santa Despite Calls For Social Distancing

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Mexico’s Beaches Are Still Full Of Crowds Celebrating Semana Santa Despite Calls For Social Distancing

@YucatanPareja / Twitter

Although Mexico’s President has come under fire from much of the international community for his relaxed approach to confronting the Covid-19 crisis, many municipalities and states are taking an aggressive stance to halt the pandemic.

In fact, all of Mexico’s more than 6,000 miles of coastline have been closed. That means zero access to beaches – a major draw for millions of local and international tourists.

Officially, all of Mexico’s beaches are closed.

Credit: @localesoaxaca / Twitter

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell told a press conference on Thursday that the closure order applies to every beach in the country until the end of the national emergency on April 30.

“The order has been given. It obliges state and municipal authorities to take coherent measures and suspend tourist activity on beaches, be it international or local tourism,” he said.

Other states had already begun to close beaches earlier this week.

Those closures impacted some of the county’s most popular tourist attractions, including Baja California Sur, Baja California and Oaxaca, where local authorities closed down the country’s only nudist beach, Zipolite. Like beaches throughout Mexico, Zipolite is a big draw during the Semana Santa (Easter Week) vacation in April.

Authorities in Tamaulipas and Sonora had also begun to close beaches before the order, and Guerrero announced Wednesday that its beaches would be closed beginning Thursday.

“The state government makes this delicate decision in an unsatisfactory setting: we have had to choose between protecting life and suspending economic activity,” the state government said in a press release.

These authorities recognize that the economy – although it will be impacted – will recover.

Credit: Secretaria de Salud / Gobierno de Mexico

It said that the economy will always be recoverable as long as the human factor still exists and urged citizens to stay at home and practice other methods of social distancing.

But not everyone seems to have got the memo – as miles of beaches remained full of vacationers.

Credit: Pixabay

Even though it’s been proven that social distancing is our greatest tool against the growing pandemic, some are choosing to ignore these guidelines. And as a result, their risking the health of millions.

Over the weekend, people decided to defy the government’s order to stay at home and instead enjoy a day out at the beach in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz. The newspaper Milenio reported that Playa Villa del Mar near the port city of Veracruz was packed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with both revelers and vendors offering products such as swimming suits, food and alcoholic beverages.

President López Obrador on Friday ruled out any possibility of implementing “draconian measures” such as a curfew to contain the spread of Covid-19, while he said two weeks ago that he wanted to avoid a complete shutdown of the economy because it would disproportionately hurt the poor.

As if people needed another reason to stay clear of beaches – other than you know, a global pandemic – wild animals are making a comeback in less populated areas.

Credit: @infolliteras / Twitter

Videos have captured the animals in Quintana Roo, where the resorts of Cancun and Riviera Maya are located.

One video, which has been watched 120,000 times on Facebook, shows a huge crocodile swimming along a canal between balconies. The people filming express their shock at the animal as he swims past without stopping for the people watching him.

Another video captured a jaguar roaming the streets of Tulum. According to local media, the big cat was spotted near the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort & Spa.

The Coronavirus Is Getting Its Own Beer And Concha At This Mexico City Panadería And We Can’t Help But Laugh A Little

Culture

The Coronavirus Is Getting Its Own Beer And Concha At This Mexico City Panadería And We Can’t Help But Laugh A Little

@lacornetanegra / Twitter

No one can accuse Mexicans of having no sense of humor. Whether it be reactions to cartel violence, an ineffective government plagued by corruption, or a global pandemic – many Mexicans turn to memes and humor to confront real issues. Enter the CoronaBeer and ConchaVirus.

Yes, the Coronavirus has ravaged communities around the world. And Mexico itself hasn’t escaped the crisis – more than 2,000 cases have been reported so far and it’s expected to get much worse.

Entrepreneurs are trying to find some common ground and an opportunity with a very scary reality.

Martha Rivas is part of the team who created the now viral “Conchavirus.” She says, in an interview with UnoTV, that the creation came from “a genuine concern about how to face this crisis due to the coronavirus.”

The creators of this peculiar product found in the “Conchavirus” how to cope with the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. They’re bringing in the pesos like never before.

Yes, the ConchaVirus is real.

Credit: @lacornetanegra / Twitter

The “Conchavirus” was created in Mexico City’s bustling Iztapalapa district by a team of creative panaderos/as. The interesting looking confection is made with red icing, concha dough, and a lot of creativity. The team behind the now viral pan dulce, hand decorate each and every concha to make sure that it is best representative of the illustrations of the virus, provided by doctors and scientists.

For anybody wondering – a large Conchavirus is going for $6.50 pesos (or about 25¢ USD). There’s also apparently the “Manta-ConchaVirus,” but that’s…a whole other story.

It’s so real, it even got its own segment on a local news channel.

After the publication of a photo that went viral on social media, chilangos – or residents of Mexico City – began a crazed search search for the conchas. This viral moment has already been reflected in the huge growth of sales.

Meanwhile, Corona has suffered a major decline in sales because of the namesake virus.

Credit: @GabrielFrancoJr / Twitter

I mean, remember when rumors started flying around that some people actually thought the virus and iconic Mexican beer brand were somehow linked? Yea, it was a thing.

And yea, Corona beer already existed long before the pandemic but this CoronaBeer is totally different.

Obviously there isn’t much too celebrate right now given the on-going health crisis, but one beer makers hopes what when all is said and done – people will toast to good health with his new brew.

A brewery in Mexico’s state of Hidalgo has appropriated the name of the deadly virus and used it for a product he hopes will bring people together – Coronavirus Beer.

Isaac Palafox, the entrepreneur, owns a chain of cafés and was already serving the beer but it didn’t yet have a name. He describes the beer as an English-style brew with hints of chocolate, molasses and coffee extract.

“This drink is already being produced and sold in my cafes, but it didn’t have a name, until now,” he said, adding that the coffee he uses to make the beer is toasted by artisanal roasters whose methods date back to the year 1900 and incorporate practices brought to Hidalgo by German immigrants to the region.

But Mexican businesspeople aren’t the only ones looking to capitalize on the coronavirus. The newspaper El País reported that six brands in Spain have made trademark requests for names related to Covid-19, including T-shirts that read, “I survived the coronavirus.”