CVIndependent

Wed08122020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

What: The carne asada tacos

Where: Baja Springs, 1800 N. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs

How much: $1.69 separately; $8.99 combo plate (as shown)

Contact: 760-322-9988

Why: They’re packed with yummy meat.

Tacos … is there a more popular food in the United States today? When you have the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, making “Taco Tuesday” a social-media sensation—to the point where he actually tried to trademark the term, but the application was denied because the phrase is too ubiquitous—that says something.

Did you know, however, that tacos were not the first Mexican food to become popular in the United States? Friend of the Independent Gustavo Arellano, now a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, literally wrote the book on the subject: Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. In 2012, he spoke with KCRW about how tacos became popular thanks largely to the food scene in Los Angeles—especially the birth of the taquito at Cielito Lindo on Olvera Street in 1934. This happened, however, well after chili became huge in San Antonio, and tamales were a craze in San Francisco.

While the Coachella Valley’s restaurant scene has its pluses and minuses, we’re blessed with a lot of good Mexican food—especially tacos. It’s often said that the best tacos can be found in unexpected, hole-in-the-wall places, and while this is not always correct, it is in the case of Baja Springs: This small market, tucked away on Sunrise Way just north of Vista Chino in Palm Springs, has been churning out great tacos (and other Mexican fare) for years—but I only recently discovered it when the place came up on a food-delivery app.

Pretty much every imaginable meat is stuffed into corn tortillas at Baja Springs, from chicken to fish to tripe to cabeza. While I haven’t been able to try all 12 of the tacos on offer, I can vouch for the fantastic carne asada tacos. They’re delicious—and only $1.69 each.

All hail the great taco!

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Dear Mexican: Mexicans always reference the Reconquista. However, I think you should be invading Spain instead.

The Spanish did to the Native Americans in Mexico what the whites did to the Native Americans in America. In fact, we treated the Native Americans better: We gave them reservations; they pay no taxes; they have the right to gambling, etc. We also treated the Mexicans a lot better than the Spanish. The Spanish slaughtered the Native Americans in Mexico, and I believe their indigenous cultures have been totally destroyed. Let’s not forget the Spaniards’ great gift of syphilis.

If “Mexicans,” Spanish illegal immigrants, are going to go back 160 years to hold a grudge against Americans, why don’t they hate Spain, too?

Heep Big Jerk

Dear Gabacho: I had to give the respuesta to my former college profe, Paul Apodaca, a professor of sociology and American studies at Chapman University and the scholar who turned me on to one of my all-time favorite books: Richard Drinnon’s Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building, which perfectly explains gabacho foreign policy.

“American Indians pay federal and sales tax like other U.S. citizens but do not pay state income tax while living on their federally recognized reservations,” Dr. Apodaca says. “The United States did not give land to Indians any more than England gave freedom to the U.S.; both governments recognized the God-given rights of men.

“Millions of Indians in Mexico speak their own languages, cultivate their indigenous foods, practice their folk arts, continue their histories, have participated in two revolutions and retain the entire country of Mexico as members of a nation they formed. Indians have traveled across North America for thousands of years searching for resources for their families. Time changes every culture, and Mexico reflects those changes, but the people are continuing, and that is something wonderful to celebrate, not begrudge.”

Pressed for something funnier, Dr. Apodaca concluded, “The fellow has conclusions but no accurate premises—simply opinion. His use of the word ‘grudge’ is Freudian, as I make clear in the last line. Some folks don’t see the forest for the trees or the Indian for the Mexican.” BOOM!

Dear Mexican: Do Mexicans resent meaningless, wannabe Spanglish advertising slogans like Taco Bell’s “Live Más”? This gabacho finds it rather offensive. Sniff. Shouldn’t such odious assaults on language(s) be outlawed?

Shepherd of Shakespeare

Dear Gabacho: This Mexican resents Taco Bell’s meaningless, wannabe Mexican dish called the Doritos Loco taco—leave it to a company founded by a guy who ripped off a Mexican family’s recipe to earn his billions (true story—read my Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America) to fuck up what could’ve been an amazing dish. Hard-shell tacos are Mexican; Doritos were created by Mexicans at Disneyland (again: in my book). Yet the Doritos Locos taco is too salty and has little Doritos flavor—and then there’s the “beef.” Guacatelas!

As for your complaint: Some Mexicans do despise Spanglish, but those Mexicans need to get laid more often. Anecdotally, Mexicans like Spanglish advertising if it’s clever, and “Live Más” was OK enough to not spur a yaktivist revolt.

Scientifically, don’t believe the hype: Most studies done on whether young Mexican Americans prefer advertising in English, Spanish or Spanglish is laughably biased. Take “The Bilingual Brain: Maximizing Impact with English- and Spanish-Speaking Millennials," a 2014 study involving Nielsen and Univision that unsurprisingly found that advertising in Spanish “offers a unique advantage for brands striving to connect with bilingual Hispanic millennials”—the most foregone conclusion since Mexico underachieved in the last FIFA World Cup.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Gentle cabrones: Behold, it’s my annual Mexican Christmas guide, where I recommend the best Mexi-themed libros for you to give to your loved ones this Navidad instead of yet another tamale to unwrap.

Lowriting: Shots, Rides and Stories From the Chicano Soul: A stunning collection of lowrider photos by Los Angeles-based librarian/photographer Art Meza, combined with essays and poems about Chicano car culture. (Yours truly has a piece about my 1974 Cadillac Eldorado convertible—pinche thing has more power than a B-17 Flying Fortress.) Publisher Santino Rivera also has another awesome anthology—¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature, published in response to the attack on ethnic studies in Arizona and beyond. Order them at brokenswordpublications.com, and Rivera just might throw in a sticker that pays homage to the Sex Pistols and reads: “Never Mind the Hispanics Here Come the Xicanos!” HELL YA!

A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States: The latest collaboration between essayist Ilan Stavans and legendary cartoonista Lalo Alcaraz, this book is like a graphic-novel version of A People’s History of the United States, but far funnier. And don’t forget to buy all of Lalo’s books, as they remain evergreen gifts.

Speaking of Evergreens: Any of the works of Sam Quinones, Daniel Hernandez, Carey McWilliams, Jody Agius Vallejo and William Nericcio—each, in their own ways, magnificent storytellers of the Mexican experience.

Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest: A Self-Portrait of a People and New Mexican Folk Music/Cancionero del Folklor Nuevomexicano: Treasures of a People/El Tesoro del Pueblo: Yes, these titles by the always impressive University of New Mexico Press are pricey. But anyone who’s a student of New Mexico or a lover of Latino music must own these tomes, which examine the unique musical traditions of the Land of Enchantment, featuring corridos that date back centuries. The latter comes with a CD, as well—you remember those, right?

Latina/os and World War II: Mobility, Agency, and Ideology: The other great university press for Chican@ thought is the University of Texas Press, and this press’ best effort this year was this anthology regarding the Mexican-American experience in the Good War. Yes, Ken Burns: Latinos fought in the conflict.

The Changs Next Door to the Díazes: Remapping Race in Suburban California: Released late last year by the University of Minnesota Press, this fluid ethnography reveals the Reconquista for all its nefariousness: Mexis are moving to the suburbs and joining the middle class. RUN!

Paradise Transplanted: Migration and the Making of California Gardens: University of Southern California sociology professor Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo did a pioneering study of Latina domestic workers in 2001, so it made sense that her follow-up in the genre would focus on jardineros. Featuring her usual trenchant analysis and a Studs Terkel ear for letting subjects tell their life story on their own terms.

¡Ask a Mexican!, Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America: Because DUH!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican