History Tidbit: November 20, 2020 marks 110 years since the onset of the Mexican Revolution War, which was motivated by decades of injustice and exploitation of the working classes, and the wish to abolish presidential re-elections in the Mexican government. Farm and factory workers, and many other civil and political groups around the country, had grown disgruntled with the dictatorship-like, thirty-year presidency of once army hero, general Porfirio Díaz Mori; this period, named after him and known as “El Porfiriato” was characterized by sharp contrasts between the country’s economic progress, riches for the upper class, and extreme poverty and exploitation for the general population.
The revolutionary movement was led by Francisco I. Madero, who ran for president in 1909, but was incarcerated and hence lost against Díaz, who had broken his promise of not running for another presidential term. While in exile, Madero wrote the Plan de San Luis, to oust Díaz and restore real democracy in Mexico; with the phrase “Effective Suffrage, No Re-election”, he exhorted all the factions to come together in the fight for social justice, which began on November 20, 1910. Although the deposition of Díaz only took a few months, and Madero had managed a pause in the battlefield and the establishment of a new government by mid 1911, the social and political turmoil created by the revolt and three decades of oppression, were far from over. Madero was murdered in 1913, and a contra-revolutionary government led by Victoriano Huerta took over. Guerrilla and political leaders such as Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, Alvaro Obregón and Venustiano Carranza, had very different goals and views, but were all against Huerta’s tyrannical scheme. Huerta was removed from power in July 1914, and eventually Carranza became president; his government drafted a new constitution, approved on February 5, 1917. Many historians consider this as the official end of the conflict, or shortly after, when Alvaro Obregón was elected president, in 1920. However, regional revolts and their associated bloodshed subsided only gradually; all four of the aforementioned leaders were murdered: Zapata in 1919, Carranza a year later, Villa in 1923 (three years after he had retired to his farm!) and Obregón in 1928, after seeking re-election.
November 20 became a holiday, known as Revolution Day, usually commemorated with celebratory parades, which focused on achievement in sports, leaving the military component out to enable the healing process from the incredible painful experiences of Mexicans fighting against each other. This year, Mexican athletes will be recognized for their achievements in a low-key award ceremony, but Mexican President López Obrador has left it to the Mexican army to organize a small event with no civil participation, due to COVID19.
In a previous post, I talked about how food was influenced during these violent revolutionary times; any dish that could be prepared and served from one pot (de la olla), or easily transported, became an asset when improvised cooking had to make use of whatever was available, and could get interrupted by hailing fire without notice. Tacos acorazados hit the bill; the story goes that around 1908, a lady by the name of Felicita Sánchez, started selling hard boiled eggs and rice out of a basket at the train station in Cuautla, a town in the Mexican state of Morelos. To make the dish portable, she assembled a layer of rice on top of two corn tortillas, then nested the eggs in the rice, and topped with salsa. Her method became popular, and especially handy when the Revolution War started shortly after; not only eggs, but any other kind of food, even saucy dishes, could be neatly placed on rice, all wrapped with a double layer of tortillas. Many others copied the technique with a variety of fillings, generically called guisados, which are any kind of stew or savoury preparation. Because of this reinforced structure, they were called “acorazados” which means “armoured”, with a popular belief that it was specifically because of the steel-plating armoured battleships, called acorazados in Spanish, which became decisive for naval victories at the turn of the 20th Century, and to some extent during WWI. Later on, even Felicita’s son started his own business in Cuernavaca, capital city of Morelos, and continued to popularize the “armoured” tacos.
The double tortilla and the rice also made these tacos stable and prevented the taco from becoming soggy. Acorazados are still mostly related to the state of Morelos, but the model is used by many restaurants and stands around the country, wherever tacos de guisado are served.
As an example, I took a portion of green beans and chorizo, and made two simple tacos with soft corn tortillas (photo below, left). After just a little while, the tortillas got soaked with the sauce from the guisado, and lifting the saucy tacos without breaking became impossible (photo below, right):
In contrast, by layering two tortillas, the structure is already stronger, and by adding a mound of rice (photo below, left), juices from the guisado will be absorbed, and even a large portion may be scooped on top of the rice without affecting the tortillas (photo below, right):
The outer tortilla may be folded on top as a wrap, for easy portability, perfect for a summer fun picnic, or an indoor TV dinner:
Or just folded over, as shown below with a taco acorazado with longaniza in red sauce. In the photo below, left, a tortilla getting soggy and breaking, but the problem is solved with the taco acorazado on the right:
I will share my recipes for Green Beans and Chorizo and Longaniza in Red Sauce in my next posts; in the meantime, to get a nice tacos de guisado menu going, click on the highlighted text for my recipes for Mexican Style Rice, and a few guisados, such as Chiles rellenos (Crispy Stuffed Poblano Peppers), Tinga Poblana (Shredded Beef and Chorizo with Chipotle), Calabacitas con elote y ejotes (Three Sisters Stew), or as pictured below, Rajas con crema (Poblano Pepper Strips with Cream):
I am sharing my recipe at Thursday Favourite Things #466, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.
I am joining Fiesta Friday # 355 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week co-hosting with Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook. Extra thanks to Angie and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons for featuring my Layered Bean Tamales at this party.