How Mexican Food Coquered the United States Book Signing

It was an eventful day at the Fullerton Public Library with a full house. I didn’t expect there to be so many people but to my surprise it was full and we even got free samples of hot sauce. I decided to bring along my significant other and he was moving all around because he didn’t want to be there. I kept telling him how cool my professor was and that he had established his name as a writer and the Latino community. I thought we were running late and I wanted to make sure that I got a seat so we rushed over speeding the entire way. We decided to walk in five minutes before the event started because Gustavo had said he would start at 6pm. To my surprise we were ridiculously early. I guess I’m not your typical Mexican, instead of being late all the time I’m always way too early. The early bird gets the worm and we got hot sauce! We were told to do three interviews and so I embarked on a mission to force people to give me an interview.The people I interviewed consisted of two females and one older man.

The first person I interviewed was Mercedes Tinoco. She is a student at Cal State Fullerton and she was sitting behind me,

Q1:  Why did you come to the event?

A: I came to the event because it was part of the class curriculum. I’m taking a Chicano Studies course at school.

Q2: How did you hear of the event?

My professor gave us all the information.

Q3: What did you think of the event?

A: It was really interesting learning the stories about Mexican food. There was a lot I didn’t know before coming to the event.

Q4: Is this the first book signing you’ve been to?

A: Yes.

Q5: What’s your favorite Mexican food?

A: I love posole with all the condiments. I love putting  a lot of onions and cilantro into it

The second person I interviewed was Melissa Morales. She was also a student at Cal State Fullerton.

Q1:  Why did you come to the event?

A: I  had to come for a class, my professor made us come.

Q2: How did you hear of the event?

A: My professor told us about the event for our Chicano Studies course.

Q3: What did you think of the event?

A: It was really interesting, the author is really funny. He gave a lot of informative information about Mexican food.

Q4: Is this the first book signing you’ve been to?

A: Yes

Q5: What’s your favorite Mexican food?

A: I love all kinds of foods. I like tostadas, tamales, and enchiladas. I love the tamales with chile con queso.

The third person I interviewed was Bob Wenzlaff an older man from the city of Fullerton.

Q1:  Why did you come to the event?

I really like Gustavo, I often read his column in the O.C. Register. He’s a really funny guy and I was excited to come to the event.

Q2: How did you hear of the event?

A: It was actually advertised on his column that he was going to have the event here.

Q3: What did you think of the event?

I enjoyed it very greatly. He is a fine speaker. He’s also very interesting and funny.

Q4: Is this the first book signing you’ve been to?

A: No, I’ve been to numerous book signings

Q5: What’s your favorite Mexican food?

A: I love tacos. Actually I really love taco bell . I guess I’m not too familiar with Mexican food.

The event was a success and I walked out of the event full of energy and proud that my professor was so cool. I thought that it was funny because my boyfriend complained the entire time about how he didn’t want to be ther The following all he could do was talk about how cool my professor was and how amazing the salsa tasted.


An Eventful Book Signing

Gustavo Arellano recently release a book title, Taco US, How Mexican Food Conquered America. I was fortune enough to be present at his recent book signing at the Fullerton public library. His lecture and reading from his book was interesting. His lecture was filled with humor and facts. The humor kept me engage while the facts taught me the history of tacos. It was not only me that felt that way, I m sure the audience felt the same from my point-of-view. My assignment was to interview three people in the audience. The question and answer are presented below.

For my first two interviews, I interviewed an elder couple who sat in close to the front.

Q: Why did you come here?
A: Read about it in the O.C. Weekly and wanted to be part of the event.

Q: How did you hear about this event?
A: From the O.C. Weekly.

Q: What did you think of the event?
A: The event was excellent especially the way he presented the material.

Q: Is this your first time at a book signing?
A: No

Q: What is your favorite Mexican dish?
A: It would have to be tacos.

A: I wanted to come to hear Gustavo Arellano lecture.

A: I heard about the event from the O.C. Weekly.

A: I think the event was fine, a lot of Mexican history.

A: I’ve been to many book signings.

A: Tacos

For my last interview, I interview a young lady who happened to be on a school field trip.

A: I came with my class, this is a field trip.

A: I heard it from my teacher.

A: I thought the event was interesting and I really want to read his book.

A: Yes

A: Tacos

Hablando de comida..

The room I am sitting in is completely full of people. People standing, people sitting, and still others looking around trying to find a seat. Everyone is chit-chatting, excited about the speech that is to come. The speaker himself is walking around, mingling and being congratulated by his guests. The speaker’s  name is Gustavo Arellano. He is the editor of the OC Weekly, and he is my Chicano Studies professor at Cal State Fullerton. The event that he is hosting at the Fullerton Public Library is a book signing for his newest book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. From the looks of it, this is turning out to be a very successful night.

As I look around there seems to be a wide variety of people, all different ages and different races. There are toddlers as well as senior citizens, mexicanos as well as gringos. The two guys sitting next to me strike up a conversation and I find out that they are huge fans of Gustavo. It seems that there are many of these fans in this room. The signing and speech itself is successful. Personally I learned many things I didn’t know about “Mexican food” and people asked Gustavo a lot of good questions.

After the signing, I look around to see who my “victim” will be to interview. I first encounter an older couple, which names they did not tell me. I introduce myself and start my preguntas:

Q: Why did you guys come here?

A: We attended a previous lecture that Gustavo gave and enjoyed ourselves.

Q: How did you hear of the event?

A: We had heard about it on NPR but our friend Vince Buck called and made sure to remind us.

Q: What did you think of the event?

A: We enjoyed it and it was nice to see the turn out, there were so many people present!

Q: Is this the first book signing you have been to?

A: Book signing yes, but like we mentioned we have attend Gustavo’s Awesome lecture series.

Q: And finally, what is your favorite Mexican dish?

A: Mmm.. (pause) The only thing I can think of is my mother-in-law’s tacos…(interrupted by husband) which she learned from her Mexican cleaning lady! (Both start laughing).

My second interview victim seems a bit distant when I ask her for an interview. She kind of looks like she wants to avoid me but she finally (and reluctantly) agrees to answer my questions. Soon I found out why. She introduced herself as Theresa Cisneros, reporter and blog writer for the Orange County Register. She explains to me how her blog is about the positive things Latino’s do in Orange County. It is called OC Latino Link. After her introduction I start my questions:

Q: Why did you come here and how did you hear about the event?

A: I read about it on the OC Weekly and decided to come.

Q: What did you think of the event?

A:  The topic itself is interesting and I’ve never thought about exploring it.

Q: Is this the first book signing you have been to?

A: It’s not my first book signing but I’ve never been to any of Gustavo’s signings.

Q: What is your favorite Mexican dish?

A: Definitely Chiles Rellenos.

Q: With tomato sauce or just plain?

A: With salsa. There’s a restaurant in Rosarito that has the best Chiles Rellenos. (definitely spoke with enthusiasm for  this restaurant).

The third and final person I interview is standing all the way in the back of the line, patiently waiting to get her book signed. Her name is Natalie, and she turns out to be the nicest interview of the night.

Q: Why did you come here?

A: Well my husband and I are fans of his and love his work. We were so excited to hear about the event (waves hands frantically) that  I put it on my calendar in my phone right away!

Q: How did you hear of the event?

A: Oh we heard it on the radio, on the Kevin and Bean show. Like I said I was so excited!

Q: Well what did you think of the event?

A: It was very entertaining and Gustavo is very enthusiastic.

Me: He is like that in class too, it’s interesting to go into class.

Natalie:  I heard he teaches in the Humanities Building on Thursdays?

Me: Yes..

Natalie: It would be fun to crash his class one of these days, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind (smiling).

Q: Lastly Natalie, what is your favorite Mexican dish?

A: (thinks for a second) OH, Huevos Rancheros!

Me: I don’t think I have ever had those…

Natalie: Oh my gosh how is that even possible!!

Overall I enjoyed doing these interviews. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, finding random people to talk to, but it was very interesting and one of our most  fun“classes” to date.  


I like tacos, you like tacos, we all like tacos but at Gustavo Arellano’s book signing for his new book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, I learned there was more to the taco, and for that mater Mexican food, then taste.  As a student of Gustavo I expected his talk to focus on food diversity but what I did not expect was the diversity of the standing room only crowd that filled the Fullerton Public Library.  Among the ethnically, culturally and racially diverse crowd were members of Gustavo’s family, a Gringo Bandito hot sauce representative who was giving out free samples and an aspiring Mexican lucha libre who dawned his black mask for a picture with the author.  Then there was the florescent red face dude, in faded jeans and red Lacoste shirt, running around snapping pictures of everyone and everything.  At first I thought this giselle looking clown was really excited to see Gustavo but then I got a whiff of that stale, been sitting in the sun all day, Budweiser and knew there was more to this story then I would ever want to know. Anyways, back to the assignment, which has nothing to do with drunks or with Gustavo’s position as the editor of the OC Weekly or that this is the third book he has written. Instead, the assignment called for me to get a sense of what some attendees felt about the event.

As I walked towards the center of the battleship size conference hall, I bumped into a five foot four, dark skinned girl named Carla.  She was a student from Long Beach State and was rocking a bright blue sweeter with “ITALIA” written across the center. Her professor Kelly, she only knew by her first name, had required her to attend.  Even though the threat of a poor grade compelled her to come to the event she had a good time and enjoyed Gustavo’s sense of humor. For Carla, the increase in digital media meant this book signing would be her first and last. As for her favorite food, she adamantly proclaimed it was the chile relleno, which reminded her of growing up in Santa Fe Springs.  With her boyfriend calling I asked if she happened to be Italian, after all her sweatshirt had the nation’s name on it, laughingly she assured me she was not.

“Did you just ask her if she was Italian?”  A lanky old timer, who looked like Shaggy from Scooby Doo, asked me.  “In case you did not notice her sweatshirt had the word Italy plastered on it.” I replied.  My next thought was to tell Shaggy to kick rocks but then I realized he could be of use.  “Hey buddy, you mind if I ask you a few questions?” Hesitantly, he accepted my offer.

Example of “haute cuisine.” The food of the elites.

Shaggy, whose real name was Carlos, told me he was in attendance because, like everyone else, he loves food. In fact, he loved food so much he watched the culturally diverse food shows that appear daily on PBS.  He told me the title of the book gave him a vague understanding of what Gustavo would talk about.  And even though he enjoyed the event there were a few things that bothered him.  For one, he did not appreciate the “huckster” stuff from Martinez, the owner of Libreria Martinez bookstore in Santa Ana. Also, he wished there was more discussion on “haute cuisine.”  “What the hell is haute cuisine?” I asked.   Shaggy then went on to explain how French cooking can be broken up between haute cooking, which is upper class, “like opera.” And low class cooking, which is like a “subway performer.” He advised me if I wanted to get a taste of elitism I should try Rivera restaurant in Los Angeles. Furthermore, Shaggy, who looked as upper class as an impoverished peasant, wished Gustavo’s discussion would have addressed other forms of cooking.  He wanted there to have been more talk on restaurants other than shacks.

I thanked him for the French food lesson and then he proceeded to give me a history of his favorite food, the Anaheim Chile.  He started by racking his brain over the chiles original name and then assured me it was first cultivated by a man named Garcia in the Southwest of the United States . “Oh, that Chile.” I said.   He wondered if it was in Gustavo’s book and promised to notify me when he remembered the original name.   I thanked him for his time and scurried off.

After a few deep breaths and a quick search for the drunk who I hoped had a few airplane shots to calm my nerves, I found the perfect candidate for my last interview.  Standing in line, waiting to get signed a book she did not have, was little ten-year-old Veronica. With the confidence of a politician she addressed my questions.

Veronica who heard about the event from her parents and grandpa—I assumed they accompanied her but I did not see them—told me she knew Gustavo from his “Ask a Mexican” column and wanted to hear him speak.  For her, the event was a lot of fun and she really enjoyed Gustavo’s speech, especially the part about how Taco Bell is salty and how Del Taco is better.  “So you like Del Taco?”  “Yes” she replied. When I asked what her favorite Mexican food was she immediately stated, “All tacos from Taqueria De Anda.” “That sounds good. Can you tell me where it’s at?” She informed me there was one in Santa Ana and one in Fullerton.  Unbeknownst, to me Gustavo’s sister was standing in line behind us and she let me know Veronica knew what she was talking about.

Book Signing Interviews

For this week’s blog post, we had to interview three people at our profe Arellano’s book signing.  I thought it would take a long time, but it was actually pretty quick.  I do regret not having a more detailed interview.  I was worried I wouldn’t have time to interview all three people, so I just stuck to the five questions, not the best journalist as you can tell.  I interviewed Glenn, who was conveniently sitting in front of me for the event.  I also interviewed Andrea, whom I was surprised to see because I know her from high school, but goes to FCJ, and I also interviewed her boyfriend happened to conveniently be next to her.


Question: Why did you come to the book signing?

Glenn: I used to work for the public library.  I’ve known Gustavo for a couple of years and I wanted to support the event.  Not to mention that I love his books.


Q: How did you hear of the event?

G: I originally heard of the event from the library director.


Q: What did you think of the event?

G: Oh, great event.  I love the fact that he brought his family.  The amount of people was wonderful.  I thought the shout out he did for the public library was great.  And he’s a good speaker.


Q: Is this the first book signing you’ve ever been to?

G: No.


Q: What’s your favorite Mexican Dish?

G: Tacos al pastor.



Question: Why did you come to the book signing?

Andrea: To be honest, I came for the extra credit.  But last time he was at Fullerton College for his Orange County book it was interesting.


Q: How did you hear of the event?

A: Um, Professor Padilla.


Q: What did you think of the event?

A: I really liked it.  It was interesting, like the story about Doritos being invented at Disneyland, I knew nothing about.


Q: Is this the first book signing you’ve ever been to?

A: No.


Q: What’s your favorite Mexican Dish?

A: I think I like Enchiladas the most.


Question: Why did you come to the book signing?

Alex: My teacher Mr. Padilla told us about it.


Q: How did you hear of the event?

Al: My girlfriend and the professor.


Q: What did you think of the event?

Al: It was informative and funny.


Q: Is this the first book signing you’ve ever been to?

Al: No, I was there for the FJC one, for the Orange County book.


Q: What’s your favorite Mexican Dish?

Al: Enchiladas.


            In my personal opinion, I liked the event.  It was great to see so many people come out to listen to “my” professor.  It was interesting, and I would have bought the book if I had money.  But hey, I can still get it signed in class right?  I didn’t interview him, but Julia (classmate) and I were talked to profe Arellano’s dad after during the actual book signing.  He was cool, and of course we talked about food.  I told him how my parents are from the state of Michoacan and he told me that Los Panchos (located on Broadway and 5th Street I believe) has pretty good carnitas.  I guess now I have a new restaurant to try out to see if they are good.  Until next time, quidensen.

As a long time fan of Professor Gustavo Arellano Ask a Mexican column, I was really excited to attend his book signing last Thursday at the Fullerton Public Library. The event turned out even better than I had expected. There was such a good mix of people, young and old, Latinos and Non-Latinos, and of course the different generations of people who are lucky enough to be of Mexican descent. The night got off to a good start as Professor Arellano gave an overview of his book, talked about his experiences in each city, and took questions from the crowd. Perhaps the most touching moment was when Professor Arellano invited his family up and told the crowd about each of their specialty dishes, including his own: quesadillas! Below are some of the gracious attendees’ comments about the event. Enjoy!



Why did you come here?

Jeanette Georgieff: I live up the street from the library. I also know Gustavo and my husband is on the Fullerton Library Board.

Sandy Steiassni: Gustavo is a long time friend. I also love books and Gustavo is such a good speaker.

Danny Torres: I am a long time Gustavo Arellano enthusiast.

How did you hear about this event?

Jeanette: I heard about the event through my husband.

Sandy:  I heard about it through the Fullerton Library and some friends reminded me as well.

Danny: I heard about it on KPFK, and I also knew about it through Facebook.


What did you think of the event?

Jeanette: It was really neat. There were a lot of people.

Sandy: It was a good event. You can really tell Gustavo is excited about his work and he always conveys enthusiasm.

Danny: I liked it. Usually when he speaks there is a lot of heavy political material and this was much lighter fare. Gustavo is also always humorous and finds commonality among people.

Is this your first book signing?

Jeanette: No, I have attended about five book signings total.

Sandy: It was not my first and not my last either. I have all of Gustavo’s books signed by him, which are dedicated to my son.

Danny: I have gone to book signings many times. I learn from them.


What is your favorite Mexican dish?

Jeanette: Does guacamole count? I don’t know, I’m Danish (laughs) I do like cheese enchiladas and my husband’s tacos.

Sandy: There’s a restaurant in Santa Ana, Mi Abuelita’s Cocina that makes amazing veggie burritos. It is a home recipe. (He’s not a vegetarian but he likes really fresh, mild, and distinct flavors, such as spinach puree the restaurant uses.)

Danny: Chile Verde from El Camino Real Restaurant in Fullerton.

Los Vaquero y La Comida Mexicana

Gustavo Arellano

Walking into Gustavo Arellano new book signing at the Fullerton public library in Fullerton California was a new experience for me. The book  titled  ‘Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America’ brought a full house to the Fullerton library which made me realized how the Mexican food industry has grown in the past years. As a student of Professor Arellano I am really impressed how Mr. Arellano took the time to go to different state and to try different Mexican cuisine.  Also, knowing professor Arellano I was not impressed how he kept the audience entertained with facts he found out about Mexican food in different parts of the US. He clearly has a strong fan base which made the evening very special. Also, at the end of the presentation he introduced all the people that have helped him become who he is now which is his family.

on sale now!



The audience:

Q: Why did you come today?

A: from Rosa- I was curious about the book

A: from Claudia- I read Gustavo’s work at the OC Weekly I love his books

A: from Alicia – I came to support my nephew

Q: How did you hear of the event?

A: from Rosa- I was invited by a friend

A: from Claudia- A friend in my opera class told me about it

A: from Alicia – Gustavo’s mother told me about the event

Q: what did you think of the event?

A: from Rosa- I was invited by a friend

A: from Claudia- A friend in my opera class told me about it

A: from Alicia – I loved it… it was very clear the message he wanted to send

Q: Is this your first book signing?

A: from Rosa- no its my 3rd

A: from Claudia-  no its my second time

A: from Alicia- No I have been to all of Gustavo’s book signings

Q: What is your favorite Mexican dish?

A: from Rosa- Mole

A: from Claudia- Tacos

A: from Alicia- Chile verde con huevos


Ask a Mexican