When it comes to foreign food within the boundaries of the states, authenticity is a huge factor in deciding whether or not a restaurant can be considered appetizing and/or exceptional. However, the thin line that separates an authentic establishment from an establishment that’s a product of our boiling-pot environment seems to be blurred. As a result, people tend to get mad at the wrong restaurants for not being held to a certain standard of authenticity.
Taco Bell receives a substantial amount of criticism for this exact reason. While the name and motto “Live mas” is half-Spanish, these minimal factors shouldn’t sway someone away on the basis that “It’s not real Mexican food.” It’s not supposed to be Mexican food, it’s a different category of food altogether, Tex-Mex.
With almost 300 locations in 26 countries around the world, Taco Bell frequently changes its menu for the respective demographics of the area. In India, you have a Chicken Tikka Masala Burrito. In Japan, the shrimp and avocado burrito with wasabi mayo is a special on the menu. In the United Kingdom, the BBQ Pork Quesadilla seems to be a favorite.
These special menu items are a key factor in understanding how a restaurant caters to its population while holding onto a basic set of principles at the same time. This brings the conversation back to how restaurants such as Taco Bell should be labeled. While it is not 100 percent Mexican food, it still manages to outshine restaurants that hold onto the “authenticity” factor.
A local selection, Taco Loco, holds itself to a high standard of authenticity and this is what causes a huge influx of customers. This, however, doesn’t make up for its poor-tasting and sometimes unsavory dishes. A restaurant shouldn’t be placed on the spectrum of cuisine with its authenticity as the driving factor for placement.
The argument isn’t that Taco Bell is better than Taco Loco, but rather that authenticity does not equal quality. In a bigger retrospective, fast food chains cater widely to their demographics, so don’t blame local chains for unauthentic and different food selections.