Creationists enjoy taco night in Pennsylvania

I began to read this NYT article on one battle of the ongoing war over the teaching of evolution/creation in schools, and noticed something in the photo:


Are they having tacos? …with ketchup?

As a food historian, this amuses me. One idea I’ve had for a research project centers around the dissemination of ethnic foods into “mainstream” white American households. This family portrait, of Pennsylvania creationists saying grace before diving into a dinner of tacos à la Heinz, seems a perfect example of how ethnic cuisines get assimilated until they are almost entirely unrecognizable from their origins.

But there’s more to think about here. What does creationist taco night really say about this family? It’s not like they learned how to make tacos from actual Spanish-speaking people; for all we know they picked it up from Taco Bell. How would this family’s immigration politics play out in comparison (or contrast) to their choice of dinner? Would they, for instance, object to having a Mexican family move in next door? If so, why is eating “Mexican” more tolerable than living with Mexicans? I don’t mean to generalize about the particular family in the photo; I don’t know anything about them except what’s in the article. These are just the kinds of questions and thoughts that went through my mind when I spotted the taco shells on their dinner table.

It’s a nice portrait, I think.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]