AUSTIN, Texas – A new podcast takes a deep dive into Mexican food culture in Texas – through the lens of America’s love for tacos, shining a spotlight on Texas taco culture and the connective tissue between the people making them and some of the issues Texans are talking about.
The podcast “Tacos of Texas,” features Tejano, Mexican and Mexican-American voices from across the Lone Star state sharing culinary traditions around tacos, alongside culture, history, and social justice.
“We use tacos as a Trojan horse to help people understand where tacos come from, as well as the people, culture, and traditions behind them,” said taco journalist Mando Rayo, host and producer of the podcast. “In each episode, we hyper-focus on a very specific taco style and the history behind it with the goal of educating and entertaining.”
The 12-episode podcast launches today, with new episodes dropping every other week.
Episodes include The Rise of Tex-Mex BBQ, Tacos in the Time of COVID, West Texas: The Origins of the Discada, Chicanos and Chingonas on the Rise, Taco Misinformation, the Taco Economy, and Austin’s Taco Mile, among others.
In one episode, Rayo spends 24 hours with Houston-based pit master Eduardo Ortiz – and his tortilla-pressing grandmother – to learn his process for creating some of Houston’s best-smoked carne, as well as how he learned his trade.
Another episode about discada style tacos dives deep into the Chinese-Mexican influence of the disco cooking apparatus whose origins are often attributed to Chinese rail workers and Mexican ranch workers in the early 20th century.
“Tacos of Texas” centers Latino voices from across the state, including Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, Seguin, and Weslaco among other cities and towns.
“Too often, people outside of our culture talk about tacos without actually talking to the local people that run mom and pop taquerias,” said Rayo. “I want listeners to understand Texas taco culture beyond the Instagram post, by listening to people tell their own stories in their own ways, which means you’ll hear English, Spanish, and a little Spanglish.”
In addition to spotlighting specific styles of tacos, the series features taqueros y tortilleras, cooks and pitmasters academics, historians, and researchers. Two recurring segments on the podcast are “The Sounds of Tacos,” where people across the state share what tacos sound like to them, and field reports from junior taco correspondents giving shout-outs to their favorite local taquerias across the state.
“When you listen to ‘Tacos of Texas,’ you’re gonna get deep into Latino culture in Texas. I want to introduce you to these people, many of whom are mom and pop businesses whose voices are under-represented in popular media.”
In partnership with KUT and KUTX Studios, “Tacos of Texas” is produced by cofounders Mando Rayo and Dennis Burnett through IDENTITY Productions, which brings to life shows that reflect BIPOC stories and experiences, and represents an inclusive, accurate portrait of America. The “Tacos of Texas'” podcast is available on your favorite podcast platform.
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