The First Taco Recipe in English

I’m reading Gustavo Arellano’s Taco USA, a deluxe combo platter of history, personal stories, and culture. Something from the taco chapter that jumped out at me was a mention of the first taco recipe in English.  Arellano claims that it was in the California Mexican-Spanish Cook Book, a 1914 book by Bertha Haffner-Ginger.

Haffner-Ginger grew up in the Midwest, and somehow made her way to Los Angeles. There she became a teacher in the Los Angeles Times School of Domestic Science. On one of her walks to a nearby area with Mexican restaurants and food factories (“Sonoratown”), she decided that it would be fun to teach some classes on this cuisine.  The classes eventually turned into a cookbook.  At the end of the tortilla section, she includes that first-ever taco recipe and photo:

Taco recipe from California Mexican-Spanish Cook Book, by Bertha Haffner-Ginger, 1914

The sketch of a recipe — “TACO – Made by putting chopped cooked beef and chile sauce in tortilla made of meal and flour; folded, edges sealed together with egg; fried in deep fat, chile sauce served over it” — is not what you’d get if you order tacos in most Mexican restaurants. I’m not sure what they would call the above creation.

Cover of California Mexican-Spanish Cook Book, by Bertha Haffner-Ginger, 1914


Image credits
Cover of book and taco recipe from the California Mexican-Spanish Cook Book, by Bertha Haffner-Ginger , 1914.  All from at Hathi Trust.

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