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Best-selling author and '¡Ask a Mexican!' columnist speaks at UH, Nov. 15

Gustavo Arellano uses humor to debunk misconceptions of Mexicans

University of Houston


IMAGE: This is Gustavo Arellano. view more

Credit: Courtesy of Gustavo Arellano

The University of Houston (UH) has invited best-selling author Gustavo Arellano, whose work includes the nationally syndicated column "¡Ask a Mexican!," to launch this year's Food for Thought Lecture Series at 5 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Roy G. Cullen Building, Room 104. The event is free and open to the public.

Arellano will discuss his new book, "Taco, USA. How Mexican Food Conquered America," which details why the U.S. loves all things folded in a tortilla, when salsa overtook ketchup as the country's favorite condiment in the 1990s, nachos are the third-largest concession food after popcorn and soda, and the U.S. is the world's largest consumer of tequila. He addresses what constitutes "Mexican" food in the U.S.? What's "authentic" and what's "Taco Bell," and does it matter?

Arellano made his national reputation with the '¡Ask a Mexican!' column when he was perpetually amazed by local ignorance about Mexican culture and history. He invited reader submissions of questions about Mexico and started the column by making up the first question: "Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans call white people gringos?" His response in jest was that "only gringos call gringos gringos." He said, "Mexicans preferred the derogatory term "gabachos."

"Arellano's work appeals to us because he brings his signature humor to questions of authenticity, skewering gatekeepers and reminding us of the centrality of Mexicanos to the preparation of American food and the interesting process of making American food Mexican," said Todd Romero, UH associate professor of history and co-director of the series. "He addresses the topics that animate our interests in studying food in wonderfully entertaining ways."

Arellano's '¡Ask a Mexican!' column has a circulation of more than two million in 38 markets. He has received the President's Award from the Los Angeles Press Club, an Impact Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and a 2008 Latino Spirit Award from the California State legislature.

The Food for Thought Lecture Series is sponsored by the UH Center for Public History and the El Paso Lecture Series. The series focuses on the scholarly study of food and encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration on the many ways that food shape business, economies, nutrition and health, the environment and social relations.

Best-selling Author and "Ask a Mexican!" Columnist Gustavo Arellano
Food for Thought Lecture Series

5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15
A book signing will follow the event.

University of Houston
Roy G. Cullen Building, Room 104
Visitor parking at the Welcome Center and Parking Garage
Entrance 1 off Calhoun Road

Free and open to the public. For more information, contact Todd Romero at


About the University of Houston

The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 39,500 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

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