Introduction / Present / The Culture of the Taco



The Present:
The Culture of the Taco


With the increasing popularity of Mexican corn based products such as tortillas, tortilla chips, tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, nachos, tamales, and many others, there is great interest in research into alkaline cooking and processing of tortillas. Mexican food—particularly tacos, which are the Mexican fast food— is becoming increasingly popular in the world. Tortillas are finely engineered and can be used as an edible spoon or plate to consume different foods. Tortillas are a well designed product that have been used on space flights due to the fact that they can be easily stored and also because they can be broken and torn apart without producing crumbs or fine particles that might damage equipment.
Tortillas are very versatile. They can be used to accompany other foods without overpowering their flavor. Dry tortillas are still edible, don't spoil, and can easily be rehydrated. This versatility is one of the reasons why tacos and Mexican food in general have won wide acceptance in the world market. The special, unmistakable flavor of tortillas made from nixtamal is another cause of costumer preference. The reactions among lime, water, and protein that occur during the alkaline cooking of corn break down the amino acid tryptophan and produce the distinctive smell and flavor of nixtamal. Another important reaction occurs in the lipids and proteins when corn is fried, producing a distinctive corn smell. The aroma produced by heating N-furfural pyrrol is only found in corn, and not in other cereals like rice, sorghum or other grains. Lipid and protein reactions at high temperatures produce the distinctive smell and flavor of popcorn. It might seem that modern day snacks have only recently appeared in our culinary environment, but this is not the case. There is ample evidence that people have been enjoying popcorn and tortilla based snacks for hundreds of years.

Research and Technological Development