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Good Eats: American Classics VIII: Tacos

The American flag behind Alton signals another episode of the series-within-a-series called 'American Classics'. This time Alton's out to show that while the taco may have originated in Mexico, it has become thoroughly American, and a worthy replacement for any sandwich! He begins with the All American Beef Taco that depends on Taco Potion #19 and then presents his take on the Baja Fish Taco, which he makes with homemade Flour Tortillas and homemade Crema, a slightly fermented, spicy cream condiment.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 14x7
Production Number: EA1407H
Airdate: Thursday July 08th, 2010

Director: Alton Brown
Writer: Alton Brown

Main Cast
Alton BrownAlton Brown
As Himself
Alton BrownAlton Brown
As Himself


Alton stands before the stars and stripes to open another episode of the series-in-a-series, American Classics. As patriotic music plays softly, the flag lifts to reveal the Good Eats kitchen, and on the counter, the rotating drum from which Alton selects the topic of each edition. A few spins later, Alton opens the door and extracts a card that bears the name of this edition's topic: tacos...

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Episode Notes
  • In early Spanish dictionaries the term taco was defined as either a ramrod, a billiard cue, or a gulp of wine.
  • The first visual record of the taco was a photo from the 1920s showing a woman selling tacos de canasta or “tacos from a basket”.
  • According to Mayan legend, tortillas were invented by a peasant for his hungry king in a ancient times.

Why is hydrogenation bad? Manufacturers seek shelf stable products. Unsaturated fats can bond to chemicals around them, particularly oxygen from the air, and this can cause them to become rancid (a chemical change that makes the fat unpalatable and changes its physical properties). The process of hydrogenation adds hydrogen to these fats, filling some of the places they could bond to other chemicals and therefore making them stable. Unfortunately, it also tends to transform cis-isomer fats into trans-isomer fats, and trans-isomer fats (so called trans fats) are implicated in coronary artery disease, since they tend to increase the amount of circulating low-density lipoprotein in the blood. (Isomers are chemicals with the same elemental proportions but different geometries, and often different physical properties.)

Episode Quotes
Alton: Welcome, American cooks. As you no doubt deduce from the star-spangled banner behind me, you have stumbled upon another episode of the series-within-a-series that we call... American Classics.

Alton: I like to sprinkle my shells with a little kosher salt while each one is still hot. If you wait until all twelve are done most of them will be cool, and the salt will just bounce right off.

Alton: (wanting a cut of sirloin ground to his order) Could you?
Butcher: I could.
Alton: Would you?
Butcher: I would.
Alton: Will you?
Butcher: I will!

Alton: One taco cannot make up for decades of fast food mediocrity – but it's a start.

Alton: Another reason for using lard in any form in tortillas is that it is absolutely authentic. And that is good enough for me.

Butcher: Mr. Brown... we've been through this before. The counter is not self-service, okay?
Alton: Busted... like Benjamin Bunny.

Alton: Not only are they versatile, fun, nutritious and delicious, they can beat the bread off of any sandwich I know!

Cultural References
The foppish character who appears several times throughout the episode is meant to suggest John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich and the man commonly associated with the sandwich. Rumor claims that Montague gambled frequently and asked servants to bring him meat between bread on which he could dine without leaving the gaming table. The truth of this remains unclear.

Alton segues into the fish taco portion of the show with the phrase "and now for something completely different". He borrowed this transition from British comedy troop Monty Python, who used it frequently in their sketch comedy television series, so frequently that when they eventually releases a “best of” film, it bore this phrase as a title.

Caught behind the fish counter where he does not belong, Alton pulls out a phrase he's used before: “Busted... like Benjamin bunny”. Benjamin Bunny is a Beatrix Potter character, a rabbit who snuck into a garden after fresh vegetables only to be cornered by the farmer's cat. He remained trapped until his father freed him hours later.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorAlton Brown
Executive ProducerDeAnna Brown
MusicPatrick Belden
Camera OperatorRamon Engle
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