Famous Mexican Taco Al Pastor Isn’t Mexican – But Where Did It Come From?

Craving a corn tortilla filled with well-seasoned roasted meat, accompanied by lemon, salsa, pineapple, and cheese? Taco al pastor is a delicious dish eaten all over Mexico. The experienced Takoiro, the person who prepares the tacos, is ready to serve hungry customers around every corner.

What might surprise foodies: The origin of Taco Al Pasteur is thousands of miles away.

Various forms of vertically roasted meat spread throughout the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century. When Mexico received a massive Lebanese immigration in 1920, they brought traditional foods to their new homeland, but replaced some of the ingredients with various local ingredients.

Shawarma, a typical Arabic dish made of lamb, could be the predecessor to the taco al pastor. But the Mexican wrap replaced lamb with pork and added achot.

A chef in Mexico might carve meat out of this rotating tower, which is also a familiar sight in the Arab world. This photo is from November 18, 2018 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Terri Bateman / Flickr)

Arabic bread has been replaced with a Mexican version – the tortilla – to give the perfect finishing touch to tacos. The name “Al-Qass” (shepherd’s style) is associated with pastoralism. Ever since Pasteur’s lamb tacos were first used, the cook who prepares and serves the tacos has been known as the “shepherd.”

Today, in some places in northern Mexico, people call tacos “tacos de trombo” (twirling tacos), which refers to the basic form used in the cooking method. In the south, they are known as “taco de adobada,” a reference to their taste.

Tacos al pastor also has a distinct cooking technique. After seasoning the steaks in a sauce made with chili, chefs stack them in a rotating top. Then they put it in a rotating spit, where the meat is slowly cooked.

Ready-made tacos like these, pictured on August 14, 2015, can be garnished with pineapple, onion, cilantro, and salsa. (Terry Bateman/Flickr)

Takeru cuts pieces of meat while rotating them in front of the flame. There are different ways to prepare tacos: using corn or flour tortillas, with or without pineapple, with or without cheese.

However, the spit is the key to its preparation. This method of cooking was inherited by Lebanese-Mexican immigrants. Now a distinct part of Mexican culture, tacos cast a spell on the most discerning palates.

July 2019 issue of Atlas tasteTheir gastronomic guide called them “the best food in the world,” beating out Neapolitan pizza and Lasagna Bolognese.

(Translated by Gabriela Olmos. Editing by Rafael Prieto and Verne Siegel)

The famous post-Mexico “Taco al Pasteur” isn’t Mexican – but where does it come from? It first appeared on Zenger News.

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