The fact is that no one enjoys Mexican food more than Americans and it’s been that way almost from the start of Americans eating Mexican food. And, as Latinos have migrated across their historical strongholds in the American Southwest, East Coast and Florida, it’s Latino restaurateurs who open Mexican restaurants in good ol’ boy country that help make the Trump base — more than any politician or activist — realize that Latinos are, you know, human.
I’ve documented this as a writer for the Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization based out of the University of Mississippi that documents the South via its cuisine. In 2015, I conducted oral histories of Mexican restaurants in Kentucky. Time and time again, I found that Mexican entrepreneurs went into small towns in the Bluegrass State and not only taught Southerners about Mexican food, but also about the worth of Mexicans themselves. It has become such a surefire way to integrate into and then grow with a community that I also found Guatemalan, Cuban, Argentine and Salvadoran immigrants open Mexican restaurants from Louisville to tiny Danville. It’s harder to demonize Pedro and Maria when they serve you giant margaritas and sizzling platters of fajitas every night and sponsor your kids’ Pee Wee football team.
Mexican food remains the great ambassador for Latino acceptance in the United States. It’s about the last thing left that can humanize Trumpsters — because what human hates Mexican food?