food and drink

A Taco Festival In Portland Is Upsetting Latinos With Their Offensive Ads

This weekend thousands of Portlanders are expected to attend the inaugural installation of a two-day ticketed event dubbed the Portland Taco Festival. For $12-65 dollars, attendees gain entry for the chance to pay for tacos starting at two bucks each with the option of adding passes to the tequila expo. The event doesn’t stop there though.

Organizers decided to take the event a step further by boasting a Chihuahua beauty pageant and the promise of margaritas so good they’ll “remove your sombreros.” And, if that wasn’t enough, those keen on proving just how spicy they are can partake in a hot pepper eating challenge!

CREDIT: Portland Taco Festival

Portland’s messy relationship with food and race spans long before this weekend.

It’s a history so messy, in fact, that an amazing podcast called The Racist Sandwich attempts to unpack it all. When a restaurant called Saffron Colonial opened up in a historically Black Portland neighborhood in 2016, they immediately received backlash for including menu items that glorified colonization and changed their name to British Overseas Restaurant Corporation.

More recently, a burrito pop-up called Kooks decided to shut down after the owners bragged about peeking into windows to steal the tortilla recipes of women in Mexico and they were called out for cultural appropriation.

The Portland Taco Festival ads plastered with hipsters posing behind hard shell taco cutouts and white boys donning Lucha Libre masks are just another example of the Pacific Northwest’s tone-deaf, casual racism.

CREDIT: Portland Taco Festival

As Portland continues to receive due critique for the racism that pierces its liberal façade, it makes perfect sense that a taco festival in this city would opt to cater to the preferences of white folks and forgo respect for the culture which the taco originates from.

Emblazoned in the center of the festival’s logo appears a fiery Chihuahua surrounded with design elements that conjure images of the Aztec calendar to effectively ensure attendees are unable to forget the painfully uncomfortable canine contest.

From the mock Spanish of the Skippyjon Jones children’s book series to the ultra-thirsty Papi in Beverly Hills Chihuahua, this isn’t the first time that Chihuahuas have been co-opted to perpetuate Mexican stereotypes. But since it’s 2017, you’d think the organizers would take notes from the Taco Bell ad campaign that eventually led to a boycott at significant drop of sales and avoid any tiny dog references.

CREDIT: Portland Taco Festival

In an even more confusing mishmash of copy, the festival writes on their Facebook event page, “Far from the standard street fair, we will bring a new creative twist to what a city celebration can be. The modern street taco is really the embodiment of Portland’s melting pot culture. Mexican influences such as Green Chili mixed with metropolitan ideals create the diverse flavor unique to our great city.”

Even if the notion of a melting pot hadn’t been retired for its promotion of assimilation, it’s hard to understand how a Mexican street taco could possibly represent Portland, a city that is 76% white and that continues to push out its people of color—only nine percent of which are Latinx.

While the festival’s bro-y ad campaign and insistence on perpetuating dusty ass Mexican stereotypes was what first caught my attention, further investigation revealed that the festival is actually a “massive fundraiser for an amazing nonprofit program in association with the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, Archetypos Center for Spiritual Healing.” With a mailing address in the state of Colorado, hefty doses of Portland pride are being doled out by festival organizers who appear to live out of state.

On their website, Archetypos is designated as a church organization but they state, “Our mission is to bring people together by looking past the false barriers that separate society such as religion, politics, economics and racial issues. We wish to find common ground on which to build a foundation for the ENLIGHTENED HUMAN CONDITION free from dogmatic exclusion.”

For an organization so apt to write off “racial issues” as false barriers, they sure are quick to reinforce boilerplate representations of Mexican culture in the events they throw. While I reached out to Portland Taco Festival for further information on the organizers, they’ve yet to respond.

On the Portland Taco Festival Facebook page, they continue to hide behind anonymity by avoiding the many commenters requesting clarification on whether or not any Latinx people assisted in organizing.  Judging from the nonresponse and rebuttals from attendees that urge people to focus on “TACOS” and “NOT RACE,” I think we have our answer.

Instead of heading to a festival that promotes sombrero-wearing chihuahuas and features the works of Gringa Loca Art, consider paying a visit to these six tasty Latinx-owned eateries in Portland that don’t require an entrance fee instead.


Emilly Prado is a writer based out of Portland, Oregon, focused on amplifying the voices of marginalized communities in music, art, and activism. You can see more of her published work at www.emillyprado.com

READ: A Community In Oregon Showed A Taco Truck Owner That They Don’t Just Love Her Food

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These Latino Snacks Are Spicy, Salty, And Vegan

food and drink

These Latino Snacks Are Spicy, Salty, And Vegan

PETA

Making the choice to be vegan doesn’t mean you should live a life of flavorless snacking. Vegan Latinos can tell you many of the tasty snacks we know and love are also vegan friendly. Your mom might call it cochinero, but you can clap back by telling her they’re both green and kind to animals.

Chow down on any of these nine vegan Latino snacks!

1. Takis Fuego and Takis Nitro

CREDIT: Alysse and Kain/Pinterest

Yup. The greatest snack on the planet is also vegan. But, only in the U.S. Takis is other countries may have non-vegan ingredients so make sure to check the nutrition information before ripping into a bag, just to be safe.

2. Tajín

CREDIT: Tajín Company

The plastic on the top of the bottle says “this is not a candy,” but we all know different. We snack on Tajín like candy. We even add it to candy. Hell, we add it to everything! Whether it’s fruit, beer, oysters, ceviche or ice cream, Tajín makes basically everything more delicious! That’s why they invented mini bottles you can carry in your pocket – for necessary on-the-go Tajín-ing.

3. Speaking of candy…

CREDIT: PETA

Every single candy you see here☝? is vegan! Whaaaaat! So when you’re 15 Pulparindos deep and about to top it off with a Pico dumped into a Pelón, you can rest assured you’ve harmed no animals in the process of wrecking your stomach.

4. Speaking of things that are sort of candy and you can also put on candy…

CREDIT: Mexgrocer.com

Chamoy! Again, make sure to check the label because each brand makes their chamoy a little different. But, for the most part, chamoy is a vegan snackers BFF. And really, this opens the door for all sorts of veganized chamoy and Tajín-inclusive snacks! Is your mouth watering yet?

5. Cacahuate Japones

CREDIT: Sabritas/Commercial Mexicana

Aside from the offensive packaging, cacahuates japoneses are probably the best snack on the planet. They’re crunchy, salty and ever so slightly spicy – everything that makes a snack amazing.

5. Papitas Preparadas

CREDIT: TKM

Oh helllll yesssss. Papitas preparadas combine the holy trinity every snack genius knows elevates a snack to a whole other level of yum: hot sauce, Tajín and lime juice. You add that plus salsa Maggi onto potato chips and it’s a flavor rager.

6. Barritas Marinela

CREDIT: Marinela USA

After all that salty goodness, you may need a little dessert to top it all off. Reach for Barritas Marinela in strawberry or pineapple when you’re in the mood for a pastry. Side note: what is it about adding a pair of sunglasses to inanimate that immediately makes them cool AF? That barrita’s lean on the box is ultimate cool guy.

7. Mangonadas

CREDIT: Tracy P./Yelp

One of the best inventions in snackiosity is also vegan. Mangonadas are tangy, salty and mouthwatering gelato-like snacks made out of mango, chamoy, chile, lime and Tajín. They’re absolutely necessary during the summer. Plus, you can eat that Tama-Roca that comes with it, because that’s vegan too. PWAA P-P-PWAAAA!! (That’s a party horn sound)

8. Plantain Chips

CREDIT: Suraya Foods

Simple and sweet with a heavy crunch, plantain chips are a favorite snack for vegan Latinos. It’s probably why they’re also a staple of Cuban cuisine.

9. Ruffles in Tapatío Limón Flavor

CREDIT: PETA

Chips are the essential snack. Luckily, there are lots of them that are also vegan and will satiate your craving for that Latino spiciness. That includes Tapatío Limón flavored Ruffles. Yes! And if you’re not in the mood for these (which is weird because who’s ever not in the mood?), you can also go with Chile & Lime Sabritones, Lays Limón or Spicy Salsa Salsitas.

BRB gotta go stock up my snack cupboard!


READ: Latina Moms Try Vegan Food For The First Time

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