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Where tacos al pastor come from

By Tribune Travel

February 24, 2022

Most Mexicans know and/or have tried tacos al pastor. It is a very representative dish in Mexican gastronomy. The curious thing is that its origin hides a surprising history.

There are several hypotheses as to how this delicacy came to be. However, one of the most widely recognized ideas is that the recipe came from Asian immigrants. According to the myth, this meal is the creation of the Turks Iskender Efendi and his grandpa.

However, there is a very similar version that claims that these tacos originated from shawarma. Shawarma is a stew the Lebanese brought to Mexico. It’s a traditional dish made with lamb or mutton, vinegar, Arab bread, and a variety of spices.

tacos al pastor

In any case, it’s unclear how they ended up in Mexico. However, it is true that they originated in Middle Eastern countries. The original sides were jocoque or yogurt and a thick wheat tortilla.

Although tacos al pastor are not entirely Mexican, the eastern recipe received a miraculous makeover in Mexico. When pork substituted lamb, it altered the components. In addition, the marinade’s preparation suffered alterations, and chili and achiote appeared too.

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As expected, tortilla, salsa, and lime also became part of the new mix. Furthermore, pineapple was added as a special touch to this dinner. Of course, we can’t leave out the traditional cilantro and onion.

Puebla was the first city to have taquerias al pastor. Mrs. Concepción Cervantes is also credited with the Mexican method of preparation. She and her partner founded the restaurant “El Tizoncito.”

It is important to note that the reviews, recipes and traditional food site Taste Atlas, cataloged in 2019 tacos al pastor as one of the best dishes in the world, a list that also includes pizza.

tacos al pastor

Finally, there’s the taco-focused culinary blog. According to Taco Guru, the name comes from the people who cooked the meat. They were dubbed “shepherds,” referring to the “sheep that had to be shepherded.” From there, they began to call them tacos al pastor.





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