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The third installment in Netflix’s compelling docuseries Taco Chronicles is Cross the Border, where the series follows her devotion to the history and influence of tacos from Mexico to the United States. Alongside Chicago in Volume 3 as a destination city for Mexicans, their traditions and complete taco authenticity are New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas, and San Antonio.


opening shot: “Do not you recognize me? I am the only one. I’m the Carnitas taco.” It’s a longstanding feature of Taco Chronicles this narrator Mauricio Pimentel speaks in first-person about the food on offer, and here it’s the delicacy of cooked pork carnitas, a staple style of the Chicago taco scene with roots in the Mexican state of Michoacan.

The essentials: “Look,” Pimentel continues, “even if the taco leaves Mexico, Mexico never leaves the taco. Welcome, folks, The Windy City.” Opening his third volume and first with American cities, Taco Chronicles travels to Chicago, where over a hundred years of Mexican immigration have helped establish a rich tradition of taco styles and flavors. Over homemade salsas and onion and cilantro concoctions drizzled over sliced ​​carnitas or simmered birria, we meet the owners of neighborhood haunts like Carnintas Uruapan and Birria Zaragoza before cutting to an animated sequence that retraces the city’s Mexican influence Early 20th century and people who found work in the city’s vast network of meat processing plants. And that promise of work inspired a diaspora that brought with them the food traditions of regional Mexico.

Chef and restaurant owner Rick Bayless is on hand to connect that history with the specific tastes and styles found today in Chicago neighborhoods like Pilsen, Little Village and Archer Heights, as well as the longstanding outdoor scene of Maxwell Street Market, where the owners work , are how Gilberto Ramirez of Rubi’s began to bring the flavors of his homeland to his new country. We also head to Carnitas Uruapan, where we meet founder Inocencio “El Guero” Carbajal and watch as the cooked and sizzling, crispy and soft Carnitas meat is stacked in a hot box to tempt customers who love it hunky and delicious crumbled bites.

Many things are required to prepare an authentic taco, including technique, knowledge, a sense of tradition, and time spent perfecting the eye test. But it’s also about the flavors and traditions that begin at home, or as Pimentel puts it, “the special arts and incantations” that shape a family’s particular mole recipe. Are you getting hungry yet?

What shows will it remind you of? The first two volumes of Taco Chronicles are well worth a visit, with an in-depth look at regional Mexican favorites like pastor, barbacoa, suadero, cochinita, and guisado tacos. Netflix also shows the Emmy nominee Chef’s tablewhich recently released a volume focusing on pizza makers around the world, as well as options like Heavenly Bites: Mexico and the insightful Chinese food traditions of Tasty origins.

Our opinion: “The mentality of the immigrant coming to the northern cities, to Chicago, to New York, getting here is a real struggle, isn’t it? So once you’re here, you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m here now,’ you need to shift gears.” As Regino Rojas of Revolver Taco Lounge describes, for an immigrant, it’s a journey just to reach your destination , let alone earn a living there. And it’s one of the strengths of Taco Chronicles: Cross the border that it blends the personal narratives of the business owners and taqueria owners it profiles with those where their hard work has preserved the distinct flavors and food traditions of the old country. Grab a plate of carnitas (braised pork) in Chicago, or tuck into birria (marinated Jalisco goat) or chilango tacos a la Mexico City is as natural as ordering an Italian beef dipped in spicy and sweet (yes, chef!) dip Cross the border, each of these tastes and styles shared by the city are balanced with insightful personal narratives and placed in a larger cultural context, all in under 30 minutes running time. Figure in some fun animated history lessons – The shape of America really does resemble a pig when you think about it – and Taco Chronicles has delivered another hit in its ongoing and passionate tribute to one of the world’s ultimate street foods.

gender and skin: Nada!

farewell shot: “Yes, we are the taco,” says Gilberto Ramirez, owner of Rubi, proudly. “And the world wants tacos.” Combine that sentiment with a man in a pickup truck window waving at the camera, and you could soon be next in line for a plate.

sleeping star: Our sleeper stars probably have to be all the happy customers at places like Carnitas Uruapan, La Chaparrita, and Birrieria Zaragoza, who are seen cramming tacos into their mouths with the enthusiasm of people who understand Chicago’s embarrassment of wealth when it comes to authentic ones Taco Traditions goes.

Most pilot line: Ramirez from Rubi’s, known for his “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Serviceruf, speaking about the food traditions of his native country with irrepressible joy and energy. “Our cooking is incredibly beautiful,” he says, surrounded by the kitchen bustle and banging of Rubi’s in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. “We have all kinds of stuff. We’re a wonderful country.”

Our appeal: Stream it. But be sure to bring an appetite. Taco Chronicles: Cross the border moves easily between cultural history, personal stories, and the enduring and unique flavors of Mexican food tradition while revealing the allure of tacos in Chicago.

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenganges

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