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.

Netflix

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.

Netflix

“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.

Netflix

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.

Netflix

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.

Netflix

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.

Netflix

“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.

Netflix

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.

Netflix

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.

Netflix

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.

Netflix

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.

Netflix

“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

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Google Paid Tribute To Mariachi Music With A Doodle And Break Out The Mezcal Because It’s Gonna Give You Tears!

Things That Matter

Google Paid Tribute To Mariachi Music With A Doodle And Break Out The Mezcal Because It’s Gonna Give You Tears!

ULISES RUIZ / Getty

Mariachi is officially getting the search engine clout it deserves!

Google Doodle’s latest feature celebrates the musical genre of mariachi. As an ode to the anniversary of the week that UNESCO inscribed mariachi on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The genre of Regional Mexican music goes back to the 18th century.

Google’s latest Doodle features an animated video of mariachi serenading.

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Google

Singing “Cielito Lindo,” which is a song that encaptures Mexican pride, the doodle features a band of mariachi members.

Together they sing the following lyrics”De la Sierra Morena/cielito lindo, vienen bajando/Un par de ojitos negros/cielito lindo, de contrabando/ Ay, ay, ay, ay/Canta y no llores/Porque cantando se alegran/cielito lindo, los corazones.”

The lyrics translate to “From the Sierra Morena/Lovely sweet one, is prancing down/A pair of little black eyes/Lovely sweet one, is sneaking by/ Ay, ay, ay, ay/Sing, don’t cry/Because singing makes rejoice/Lovely sweet one, our hearts.”

For the doodle, the mariachi band wears traditional trajes de charro (charro suits) while strumming the traditional instruments of the genre.

Plucking away at the guitarrón, vihuela, and violin, other members use a trumpet and harp. According to Newsweek, “The tradition of mariachi originated in west-central Mexico around the turn of the 19th century, though its exact origins are murky. The musical genre began as entirely instrumental, made up of the sounds of stringed instruments, before vocals and the trumpet were eventually added.”

No doubt Google’s latest Doodle has won over the hearts of various searchers.

“What a beautiful tribute… thank you!” one user wrote.

“The Google doodle for today is a tribute to mariachis & it’s a little video that plays cielito lindo I am not okay, cielito lindo is my favorite mariachi song, it’s too cute,” another commented while another user wrote “I was so shocked when I clicked on this last night. What a wonderful surprise.”

Sweetly, the doodle really seemed to hit home for so many. “The Google Doodle today nearly made me cry,” one very happy user noted. “It was so unexpected and made me miss home for the first time since I moved.”

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Former Nickelodeon Star Drake Bell Has Rebranded as a Latin Artist and People Are Confused

Entertainment

Former Nickelodeon Star Drake Bell Has Rebranded as a Latin Artist and People Are Confused

Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage

When you think of successful Latin music artists, the name “Drake Bell” probably doesn’t come to mind. In fact, the name “Drake Bell” probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of any musician–the man hasn’t been on the radar much since his Nickelodeon went off the airwaves in 2007. But recently, the former teen star has been making headlines for his unexpected career pivot.

Fans were confused when Drake Bell posted a video to Instagram advertising his services on the celebrity “shout out” app, Cameo on Saturday. While the message was run-of-the-mill (find me on Cameo! Pay me money!), the content was what was surprising: Bell relayed the message in both English and Spanish. A deeper dive into Bell’s social media history quickly explained the perplexing post.

Last November, Bell announced on his Twitter page that he would only be posting in Spanish on his social media pages from that point forward.

Shortly after, he changed his profile name from “Drake Bell” to “Drake Campana” (get it?). He also reps a Mexican flag next to his name.

As of now, Bell has released a dual Spanish-English language album called “Sesiones En Casa” with songs named “Fuego Lento” and “La Camisa Negra”. According to Spotify statistics, Bell’s strategy seems to be working. Out of the dozens of songs he’s released over the year, two of Bell’s Top Five streamed Spotify songs are Spanish-language ones.

It seems that Drake “Campana” Bell is truly committing to becoming a full-time Latin pop star.

Bell described his decision in a July interview with Esquire Mexico. ““I wanted to do something with Latin rhythms for my fans in Mexico,” he said. “I wanted to do something like what I have heard on my tours and visits to Mexico. I love writing in Spanish, it is a beautiful language.”

He explained that his love of Mexican culture comes from growing up in Southern California, which is geographically close to the Mexican border. Growing up near Mexico made him “fall in love” with the culture. He also posted a picture to Instagram of his own Mexican ID with a Mexican address, suggesting that he’s made the country his new home.

Photo: drakebell/Instagram

Some fans are skeptical of the timing of Bell’s image re-brand.

Earlier this year, Bell’s ex-girlfriend, Jimi Ono, took to TikTok to accuse the singer of abusing her while they were together from 2006 to 2009. Ono outlined the accusations in a disturbing TikTok video.

@jimiono

This is my truth. I hope this message reaches young girls, and that no one has to go through what I did. #2020survivor

♬ original sound – Jimi Ono

“When I started dating Drake, I was 16. I was homeschooled. I moved in with him,” Ono said. “It wasn’t until about a year when the verbal abuse started, and when I say ‘verbal abuse,’ imagine the worst type of verbal abuse you could ever imagine, and that was what I got. It then turned to physical–hitting, throwing, everything.”

Bell publicly denied the accusations, calling them a “misguided quest for more money or attention”. Other observers have noted that Bell began his re-brand about a year ago while Ono’s accusations become public just a few months ago. So, it seems like Bell’s decision to focus on his Mexican fans had been in the works for a while.

It’s likely we’ll never know the true reasons behind Bell’s decision to become a Latin artist, but it’s most plausible that his sales were simply doing better in Mexico. And if his re-brand was simply a stunt for more attention, well…it’s working.

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