WRD 422-001: Taco Literacy. It is by fate that I was put in this class. Okay, that was a little dramatic, but honestly, I mean it.
When choosing classes for my last semester of my senior year of undergrad at the University of Kentucky, I wanted to go out with a bang. Being a Spanish major and a admirer of the Hispanic culture, I decided to take two Spanish classes, a Geender/Women Studies class, and a History class about Mexico. I loved Mexico when I visited in 2008 with my sister, so I thought it would be fun to learn a little bit more about a country that stole my heart and inspired me to take on Spanish for the rest of my life.
I went to the History class the first day and felt it in my gut that I would hate it. I was already miserable. I love Mexico, but to tell you the truth, classes based solely on learning History lose my interest real quick. So I dropped that class and was in search of a new one that seemed equally as interested, but still fulfilled a requirement so I could graduate. After many hour (seriously, hours..) of searching, I found it.
TACO LITERACY (WRD 422-001) — PROFESSOR STEVEN ALVAREZ
This had to be a joke. It seemed too good to be true. But it indeed was a dream come true. I had no idea what was in store, but to say I got the chance to be a part of one of the most incredible classes at the University of Kentucky in my past four years here would be a HUGE understatement. I mean that.
Taco Literacy from the get-go seemed like an easy and delicious class to be a part of. Even outsiders thought so. I had friends that were jealous and couldn’t believe there was multiple articles all of the internet (including Buzzfeed) about a class where “all you do is eat tacos”. Let me just correct you right now — this class was NOT just all fun and games — or should I say tacos and burritos (haha!). This class was full of rich, beautiful history of not only Mexico, even though there was a focus on Mexican food, but also of the world.
Yes, we got to eat. That was many times out homework. Sometimes we ate in class. But that wasn’t it. We got to see from many different perspective other peoples’ takes on Mexican food. We go to hear from well-known writers about their ideas, what it’s like writing about food, techniques to improve our writing, and their opinions on what “authenticity” really is.
This class was a writing class. This class was a history class. This class was a public advocacy class. This class was a food-tasting class. This class was a family.
I’d never met a better group of people to share a discussion about how food and culture can evolve and how it can also affect racism and other social problems.
Professor Alvarez wasn’t just a humble professor that always reminded us that his work still had room for improvement, but he was a passionate, compassionate, wise, and knowledgeable friend that had an knack for food, an open mind, allowed us to think for ourselves, and wanted to learn from us too. The way he constructed this class allowed students to think for themselves, be creative in their writing, and pursue their passions.
To sum it up: this class changed me in a great way. Thanks, Profe. You will be greatly missed and are greatly appreciated. Have a great summer! Nos vemos!