How you doin’? California is an amazing food innovation factory. It is where Ralph Rubio first introduced Southern Californians to Fish Tacos; where a Chinese lady, with some strange hardware, invented the fortune cookie; where the first theme restaurants were introduced in the late 1960’s; and where taquitos, as they now exist, are claimed to have been invented in San Diego, California, by Ralph Pesqueria, Jr.
It was a way to bring foods to home and work when customers at his tortilla factory began asking for prepared food items to take across the street at the Consolidated Aircraft Company factory as a portable lunch to help the war effort. Pesqueria used a recipe developed by his grandmother, who claimed credit for introducing the word "taquito" for the dish. The tortilla factory became El Indio Restaurant, where taquitos and other Mexican food are still served today.
But history—especially food history—can be cruel and fickle. The taquito, or small taco, was first referred to in the 1917 Preliminary Glossary of New Mexico Spanish, with the word noted as a "Mexicanism" used in New Mexico. The modern definition of a taquito as a rolled-tortilla dish was given in 1929 in a book of stories of Mexican people in the United States where the dish was noted as a particularly popular offering at railroad stations. Taquitos were referred to, without definition, in a 1932 issue of the Los Angeles School Journal.
A Los Angeles restaurant is also often given credit for their role in the early development of the taquito. Cielito Lindo was founded by Aurora Guerrero in 1934 and located on Olvera Street in Los Angeles (a great tourist destination in downtown Los Angeles—the original pueblo of the City of Angels). Guerrero's daughter used her taquito recipe in opening chain restaurants in Los Angeles and soon competitors were selling similar dishes. Even Van de Kamp's (another innovative bakery and food company in California) introduced a successful frozen taquito offering by 1976.
Crispy fried taquitos are served with several toppings and sides that include cabbage, crema (Mexican sour cream), guacamole, green chili or red chili, salsa and a crumbled Mexican cheese such as queso fresco.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
1 cup water
1-pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3-1/2 cups vegetable oil (such as Crisco®), divided
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup minced green onion tops
6 tablespoons chicken broth
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
12 wooden picks
1 cup shredded lettuce, or to taste
1/2 cup guacamole, or to taste
ChefSecret: Use a thermometer, to make sure the oil temperature is at 375⁰F to prevent taquitos from getting greasy.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: When does season two if 2020 start? I don’t like season one.
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