Dr. A. Perez
Food and Culture
Food Analysis: The Tostada
My tostada recipe is an homage to my Mother who’s resilience and social improvisation made me who I am today. Not wanting to burden me with her adult problems, she ensure I got what I needed, a warm meal every day. Not having much, she would “figure it out”. She would cook a full chicken and make it last a week. The first meal was a regular chicken dish with traditional Latino sides. The second was a variation derived from the plucked chicken meat. It would sometimes be taquitos or a quesadilla. But, when we were really lucky, it would be the tostada! The fourth meal would be a vegetable soup, based from the bone broth. And Friday, well, whatever was left over from the week! It might be one tostada with a side of vegetable soup.
The Tostada contains anywhere from 170 – 330 calories, depending on how the actual fried tortilla, meat and beans are prepared and cooked. Using lard at any point will exponentially grow the caloric intake. Sodium will also fluctuate. Pre-made, store bought, products will always be higher in sodium because it is used as a preservative. Store bought salsa, tostadas and canned beans will have 300% more sodium than home made. Tostada toppings can help balance some of the bad. Many people will mix their lettuce with kale and finely chopped celery. Others, will use reduced fat yogurt instead of sour cream.
The world’s cuisine, served at restaurants and sometimes as the main headliner of a festival, comes from the poor and is inspired by necessity! Working class folks who’s first survival instinct is flexibility. That flexibility is challenged exponentially as the family grows and more sacrifices have to be made. It is off these people’s backs that entrepreneurs can mass produce their food, exploit it, and charge 400% more than what it cost to make. This is Capitalism at work; and, Capitalism absolutely needs an exploited workforce for it to thrive. The Tostada cost approx $.80 to make, but you can get one at Broken Spanish in DTLA, for $13.
The Burrito. $12.87 for the Quesarito Burrito (Chipotle secret menu). The burrito is a product of the labor force. Poor workers would wrap meat and whatever other leftovers they had into a large tortilla (also made at home) to-go. Without access to refrigeration and too far from the farm house for a quick trip back for lunch, the Burrito became the most efficient way to “take your lunch” with you.
Fried Chicken. Fried chicken was introduced to the Southern States by Scottish-Irish Immigrants and that’s when African slaves made it their own. History aside, how do you feed an entire family with one chicken? You bread it– Increasing the calorie count and obviously flavor. The same recipe was given to Catfish, creating a separate famous southern dish. Chicken is one of the cheapest meats available. Drumsticks are frequently put on sale at $.70 a pound. At Ad Hoc,a restaurant in Yountville, CA, a full fried chicken family meal runs you up to $200—something about the “special batter”, yeah whatever.
Gumbo. The modern version of Gumbo is a result of the poor getting together trying to have a good time with everybody bringing a little something to the party and throwing it “in the pot”. Everybody eats. This hodgepodge of a dish may include chicken, ham, bacon, oysters, crab, shrimp and beef. Again, EVERYBODY eats! Harold and Belle’s will gladly feed your entire family, at $18 a bowl.
Lobster. Seafood is supposed to be a poorman’s food. So as long as you have a hook and some string, you can catch and cook your own seafood. During peak season, Lobster was approximately $3.69 a pound, in Maine. You can pay up to $16.29 for one Maine Lobster TAIL (just the tail) at Red Lobster.