Mexican food and Arellano’s epiphany

A tamale and burrito at Mi Ranchito.

As I said in today’s column, Los Angeles writer Gustavo Arellano managed to write a book about Mexican food without visiting the Central Valley. But when he did, in this piece, it’s as if the food shook the scales from his eyes. Not only about food but the Central Valley itself.

“The one thing Central Valley gets credit for is being the anchor of the state’s $46 billion agricultural industry, where nearly all of the country’s table grapes, almonds, walnuts, pomegranates, and many other crops are grown,” he writes. “But it’s also an essential, underappreciated locus of Californian identity. Waves of immigrants over the past century — Armenians, Okies, Portuguese, Sikhs, Filipinos, Japanese, Hmong, and especially Mexicans and Central Americans — have established themselves in this country in the Valley’s fertile soil, meandering roads, and affordable housing. But narratives about the Central Valley as the state’s much-maligned-yet-vital backbone and as a hub of Mexican culture are erased again and again.”

Bingo. This region’s self-description is overmastered by Coastal interpretations that are often biased or skewed or, at the very least, leave a whole lot out. It’s like being an American consumer product without the ability to control the Madison Avenue ad campaign that defines our brand. It’s between interesting and amazing that our regional food can convey our true identity.

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • RSS Related Content