Eater Austin recently published a piece by Matthew Sedacca, a writer based in New York City, in which Sedacca discussed the history of the Texas breakfast taco and the city of Austin's central place in that history. Miraculously, he did this without using the phrases "San Antonio" or "Rio Grande Valley" even once, though he was kind enough to mention that "Taco makers and food experts alike concur that the breakfast taco's origins lie in the kitchens of immigrant Mexican families living in Texas". The article was grandiloquently entitled "How Austin Became the Home of the Crucial Breakfast Taco".
This little bit of cultural analysis didn't sit well with many. If you look up references to the article on Twitter, you'll find many critical tweets about it. The article also spawned various response pieces, including in Texas Monthly, the OC Weekly and even a Change.org petition to have Sedacca exiled from Texas.
The issue is well-described by Gustavo Arellano in the aforementioned OC Weekly article as an example of Austin, once again, claiming some aspect of Texas culture as its own and acting as though the rest of Texas is an afterthought at best. As Arellano writes, "[Austin is] a fine dining city, and its obsession for breakfast tacos is admirable -- but it's like a teenage boy proud that he just got chest hair."
The Change.org petition goes even farther, with this blast against Austin's pretensions on this topic (and by extension, other topics):
More absurd is the notion that 'breakfast taco culture' was either codified or normalized by a generation of birkenstock-clad tech-jockeys and university incubatees majoring in Phish and Social Safety Net Surfing, and not by the laborers who spent the last century waking up at 5 am, breaking their fast on huevos con papas outside a truck, to build the aforementioned demographic's luxury condos.
Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.
To people who aren't from Texas or aren't familiar with the local culture, the intensity of opinions on this may seem incomprehensible. But for those of us from Texas who don't think of Austin as the center of the universe, especially those of us who trace our heritage in Texas back to the Spanish colonial era (like your humble narrator here), the Sedacca piece came off like an extreme example of the unique mixture of provinciality and hipster arrogance that Austin has become infamous for.
Make no mistake, I love Austin. It's a wonderful city with a great university, exciting nightlife and thriving cultural scene. Austin is definitely one of the top five or six best cities in Texas. But the idea that Austin has been central to the development of a cuisine that has been common in the Latino parts of Texas for decades is off-putting at best. Austin has a lot of great things it can lay claim to. But the breakfast taco isn't one of them.
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