Smithsonian Looks at the Evolution of Mexican Food in America
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Latino Center will present two programs related to Mexican American food and the production of food in America, including a look at the bracero (guest worker) farm labor program. The programs are offered in conjunction with the museum’s newest exhibition, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000,” which features 70 years of Latino food history, from a circa 1940 tortilla press to California vineyard tools used by the Robledo family. The exhibition draws on the museum’s bracero farm labor collection and highlights new objects collected to show the influence of immigrants and migrants on the American table, including the diffusion of Mexican-inspired food into all corners of the country.
Mexican specialties for purchase will be featured Feb. 9 and Feb. 23 in the museum’s Stars and Stripes Café.
These programs are part of a major initiative by the museum to create an ongoing program on food and wine in America. The museum envisions taking food and food history to the nation through its ongoing collecting efforts and a series of symposia and intellectual exchanges, online offerings and dynamic public programs.
Taco Nation/Planet Taco: How Mexican American Food Conquered the World
Saturday, Feb. 9; 1:30 – 4 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Warner Bros. Theater, first floor, center
Book sale and signing follow after the program, outside the exhibition, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000,” first floor, east wing
Note: Taco trucks will be on Constitution Avenue (between 12th and 14th streets) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mexican specialties will be available all day in the museum’s Stars and Stripes Cafe.
This program features a lively discussion with Jeffrey Pilcher, historian and author of Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food; Gustavo Arellano, syndicated columnist and author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America; and Smithsonian curator Rayna Green. Attendees will learn about the popularity of Mexican food in the U.S., from its indigenous origins in Mesoamerica to the present era of global commercialization.
Visitors can enjoy fare from a local taco trucks outside the museum and a book signing will take place following the program inside the museum’s food history exhibition, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000.”
Feeding America: Labor, Politics and Food
Saturday, Feb. 23; 1:30 – 4 p.m.
Film and roundtable: Warner Bros. Theater, first floor, center Book sale and signing follow after the program, outside the exhibition, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000,” first floor, east wing
A screening of Harvest of Loneliness, a documentary about the bracero program, will be followed by a roundtable conversation centered on the issues of agricultural work, politics and economy in the production of food in America. Panelists include authors Matt Garcia, Don Mitchell and Melanie DuPuis. The program will be moderated by museum curator Steve Velazquez. Participants will sign books after the program. Note: Mexican specialties will be available all day in the museum’s Stars and Stripes Café.
The museum is currently renovating its west exhibition wing with new galleries on American business, democracy and culture; an education center; new spaces for the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation; public plazas; a Hall of Music for live performances; and the addition of a first-floor window wall with views to the Washington Monument. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free.
The Smithsonian Latino Center is a division of the Smithsonian Institution that ensures that Latino contributions to art, science and the humanities are highlighted, understood and advanced through the development and support of public programs, scholarly research, museum collections and educational opportunities at the Smithsonian Institution and its affiliated organizations across the U.S. and internationally. For information call (202) 633-1240 or http://latino.si.edu/.
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