Taco lovers at the University of Kentucky are in for a delicious treat. Steven Alvarez, assistant professor in the school's Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies department, has created a class all about Mexican food in America called “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the U.S. South.” According to Alvarez, the purpose of the class is twofold: to help students understand the cultural history of Mexican food in the U.S., and to help them become stronger writers.
Assigned readings include books like Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, Tacopedia, and Tortillas: A Cultural History. But students don’t just read about food. Alvarez told VICE that students are expected to eat local Mexican food, write about their experiences, and even learn how to cook dishes on their own.
“It is interesting to note also that even the most stubborn of students that say they hate writing love to write when it comes to writing about food,” Alvarez told VICE. He said that his hope “is to have my students build more connections with the community and help with public writing—things like helping out small Mexican restaurants with menus and website design if they’d like.”
If you want to learn more about tacos, but you’re not a current University of Kentucky student, don’t despair. Alvarez posts assignments, readings, and videos on the class website for anyone to follow along. The course is an eclectic mix of food anthropology, history, and journalism, and the Taco Literacy website reflects that interdisciplinary approach. Alvarez has already created posts about everything from website building to the Tamale Trail of Mississippi.