A few hundred miles northwest of Houston there is a modern-day Châlons being fought that makes Thursday evening’s GOP internecine brawl look like a state dinner. This war isn’t over a petty issue like healthcare, immigration, or the future of the Supreme Court, but rather, one of crucial cultural and culinary vitality: the origin of breakfast tacos.
The rift was loosed last week by a well-meaning New York writer who on a visit to Texas made the grievous error of ever-so-slightly associating the rise of the breakfast staple to the City of Austin. Among its charges: Breakfast tacos are “the city’s beloved morning dish” and “Austin is the birthplace of the phrase breakfast taco.”
Horrible sin? Well, to many in Texas, this is akin to lauding New Jersey for its bagel culture and then in the same breath, crediting Peter Minuit with the discovery of Manhattan.
The truth is that like almost anything culinary, particularly in the United States, its origins are disputed. The glorious enfolding of egg and potato into a flour or corn tortilla was popular elsewhere long before Austin became one of America’s trendiest destinations and fast-growing cities.
Corpus Christi, and more notably, San Antonio, both of which have far more credible claims to the breakfast, grew quickly enraged at the slight. For the writer’s crime of “taco negligence,” a hyperbolic Change.org petition, written from the Alamo City and now signed by more than 1,600 people, demanded his immediate exile from Texas or that he turn himself over for “mandatory reeducation and rehabilitation” in the City of San Antonio.