I’m driving home on Good Friday afternoon, stuck on the Santa Monicafreeway I’m flipping through the radio when I hear professor Gustavo’s voice on KPFK. I listened as he did his pitch for his new book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. I admit the Pocho Hour of Power on KPFK is not my favorite show but I listened to Gustavo proclaim that Lucy’s #2, which is just around the corner of my house, has the best chile relleno burrito. I gagged at the thought of a chile relleno burrito. I often wonder what Mexican people living inMexico think of our Mexican food in the states. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise them; we can be pretty innovative people. Everyday after that Friday afternoon I kept hearing Professor Arellano on every radio show I would turn on. Honestly, by Thursday night I was on Gustavo Arellano overload. I showed up to his book signing at the Fullerton Library. Not knowing what to expect I arrived just in time to grab one of the few seats available. The place was packed. The presentation went very smoothly, he read a few passages and answered some burning questions like; where is the best carne asada burrito in the OC?

I really enjoyed Ruben Martinez’s, owner of Martinez bookstore in Santa Ana, introduction. It was truly a genuine speech full with pride and joy for a young man that many of us look up to. I enjoyed every bit of it, especially when he presented to the crowd his family and publicly admitted to the audience he doesn’t know how to cook. I suppose cooking skills are irrelevant when you know where to find the best taco in every corner of the continental US.

After the presentation I walked around looking for people to interview for my assignment. Luckily I did not have to look too far. I walked up to Gustavo’s little brother Gabriel.

Ana: Why did you come to the event?

Gabriel: I didn’t go to his other book signings so I came to this one.

Ana: How did you hear of the event?

Gabriel: He’s my brother.

Ana: What did you think of the event?

Gabriel: There’s a lot more people than I expected. I’m very proud of him, never thought he do all this.

Ana: Is Gustavo a good big brother?

Gabriel: Yeah. (He pauses) he was always reading a lot.

Ana: Is this your first book signing.

Gabriel: No.

Ana: What is your favorite Mexican dish?

Gabriel: My mom’s enchiladas.

Ana: Green or red?

Before I can even finish my sentence, Gabriel and Gustavo’s mom walks up and answers for him, “Red! No onions!”

I think I might have offended her by asking such a question.

My next victim was Matt McMullen fromDallas.

 Ana: Why did you come to the event?

Matt: Gustavo is a friend and he invited me.

Ana: How did you hear of the event?

Matt: Because of Gustavo.

Ana: What did you think of the event?
Matt: It was awesome, wish he had more time to take more questions from the audience.

Ana: Is this your first book signing?

Matt: Yes, first one.

Ana: What is your favorite Mexican dish?

Matt: Queso. (he laughs).

Ana: Just cheese, I’m not sure that is considered a plate.

Matt: Well inTexas, they serve is as a side dish, melted. It’s kind of Tex-Mex gourmet food. But huevos rancheros would are my favorite Mexican dish.

Ana: Green or red sauce?

Matt: Red sauce. I didn’t know green was an option.

 For my last interview I decided to interview my friend who came along with me.

 Ana: Why did you come to the event?

Wally: I was invited by a friend.

Ana: How did you hear of the event?

Wally: My friend.

Ana: What did you think of it?

Wally: It was very interesting as well as entertaining. I like learning of hidden histories of everyday issues that are generally taken for granted.

Ana: Is this your first book signing?

Wally: Yes.

Ana: What is your favorite Mexican dish?

Wally: Anything wrapped in a tortilla – particularly carne asada – ( but its really hard to pick a favorite because it is all very good!)


About ocbarrios

Professor for Cal State Fullerton's Barrio Studies class for Fall 2011 semester

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