Students at the University of Kentucky are living the dream; they’re eating tacos for college credit. According to Munchies, Kentucky started offering a new course called Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South. Steven Alvarez, an assistant professor in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies department, was inspired to create the class after going to a Southern Foodways Alliance symposium and seeing how people connected through food.
“You can go to the smallest towns in Appalachia and there will always be a Mexican restaurant,” he told Munchies. “It is really interesting to see how Mexican food has evolved socially here. This class allows our students to explore the issues of immigration, inequality, workers, intercultural communication, and literacy through the prism of food.”
Throughout the semester, students will read Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, Tacopedia, Taco USA, and Tortillas: A Cultural History. The last book was added to the syllabus because Alvarez wants his students to understand that a taco is only as strong as the tortilla it’s made on.
According to Alvarez’s Taco Literacy site, which he regularly updates with assignments, they will also have some guests, such as Laura Patricia Ramirez of Tortillera y Taqueria Ramirez in Lexington. He has also asked his students to start WordPress blogs and Instagram accounts, where they can tag their posts with #TacoLiteracy and #MexKy.
One of the homework assignments on the class website is to “add a post about locations you are planning on checking out.” But he also has them taking taco tours and reviewing restaurants in Mexington (Lexington).
“At the very end of the course, my students will be generators of knowledge, have a portfolio full of multimedia food journalism, and they will be over the fajita stage of Mexican food,” he said.