The unveiling of the Tacoshed project took place to a standing room only crowd tucked into the Studio for Urban Projects last Thursday - complete with the exquisite earthy smells of stewing black beans wafting over us as we heard architecture students from CCA present their work. The assignment? Well, it started with a shared meal at a taco truck. As the students were eating tacos and burritos truckside, their teachers (David Fletcher and John Bela among them) tasked each one with tracking down the life story of a taco ingredient from it's origin to it's destiny from foodshed to wasteshed. From the salt that was harvested in the South Bay to the aluminum foil wrapper that began its life as a mineral tens of thousands of miles away.
1 taco. 18 ingredients. 2.6 trips around the globe. This is where your Taco comes from San Francisco. This is your Tacoshed.(image by the Tacoshed project)
I love nothing more than this kind of exploration. The looking beyond the surface of what is a very tangible, very simple part of our every day, a door into the complexity of the world we live in. An exploration of the ecology of the everyday as John Bela put it. Through this deconstruction of a taco--you can learn about about everything from the politics of food to international trade, from the seasonality of foods, to hi-tech agriculture (avocados are tested for ripeness with sonic waves. (Wait, can I get that again? Yes. Sonic waves.)), and finally, that corporations will sell the same exact pinto bean or rice in several different packages, each with a culturally appropriate image on it -- from the gringo brand to the one emblazoned with a sombrero.
And that's just scratching the surface of the many layers of this project. The compelling maps, graphics, and stories that these students collected will keep you thinking and questioning and talking about your Tacoshed.
That was just one taco, the economically efficient taco. But there are others to learn from. Like the taco from Gracias Madre, that we also heard about at the event. Gracias Madre is the new vegan taqueria where the tacos are made with love out of locally farmed ingredients. (Check it out--and take me with you--and get something with the cashew nacho cheese please.)
The evening wrapped up with the smells of frying homemade tortillas. We were served black bean tacos from the Spotted Rooster. They were, quite simply, the best tacos I've ever eaten. And you know how much I love me a good taco. I loved them so much I may actually start following something on Twitter. That's bold.
Follow the Tacoshed--it's going somewhere (maybe even into the old Oxford?) & explore your own world from the root to the fruit.