There is a class at the University of Kentucky called “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South.”  A syllabus typically includes a statement by the professor about what he or she hopes the students will learn in the class. In an interview, the Taco Literacy professor (Steven Alvarez) gives what might be the best all time class objective:

“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.”

As for the books for the class, they look awesome too. Here is his description of the readings: “Our first book is Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food. Then we have the Tacopedia and Taco USA. Lastly, a book solely on tortillas called Tortillas: A Cultural History, because I try to break down to my students that a really good taco will always depend on the tortilla.”

Here is a link to the Taco Literacy website.  It is one of the most creative and fun class websites I’ve seen (granted, this is a low bar, but still…).  Each square is a click-able link to that day’s discussion. Some of my favorites are:  “The Tamale Trail of ….Mississippi,” “Sombreros and Mariachis,” and “Taco Literacy Around the Nation:  You’re famosos

You gotta love a syllabus that has this disclaimer all in caps!  “THOUGH TACOS ARE EXPLICITLY NAMED IN THE COURSE, THEY NEED NOT BE THE FOCUS FOR YOUR RESEARCH.”

I teach a class at OU called Mexican Economic Development.  While it has drawn a fair amount of students, imagine the number that would have enrolled had I taught Taconomics instead!

Mexican Monday Round Up

1. U.S. and Mexico quietly building trust on their own terms ““We’re very much doing the same thing we’ve done for the past decade or so. We’re just more aware of the sensitivities and respectful of the current climate.'”

2. Mexico’s Female Vigilante Squads “The force is made up of mostly middle-aged housewives, mothers and grandmothers. Many of these women have lost loved ones to violence, or were victims of crime themselves. They have lived in fear for their family, and they decided that they’ve had enough. So roughly 100 women have now volunteered to put their lives on the line in order to protect their children and defend their community.”

3. How Tacos Explain Mexico’s Labor Market “Like meat in an over-stuffed taco, many people don’t fit into the formal sector and fall out to the sidelines.”

4. From a Tortilla, the Feeling of a Warm Embrace “People have been putting food inside tortillas and eating them for centuries, but the first tacos to be called tacos were probably eaten by 18th-century laborers working in the silver mines of Mexico, said José R. Ralat, an expert on the folklore of tacos. The miners gave the food the same name as the little sticks of dynamite they used in their work.”