GBTB – DFY Mando Rayo | Taco Journalism

Mando Rayo Shares How Taco Journalism Can Change The World


Attention Mentions:

Mando: Story questing for season 3 of his podcast ‘Tacos of Texas’ has his attention

Claire: Maintenance Phase podcast especially the episode titled ‘Doctors Have a New Plan for Fat Kids’

Nichole: ‘What You Want Wants You’ by Suzanne Eder


Ways to find Mando:

Instagram: @unitedtacosofamerica


Podcast: Tacos of Texas


Join us as we talk about politics through the lens of food! Mando shows us that we can use culture as a fun entry point when exploring contentious issues. He has a long history of community building and grassroots organizing and those values inform his approach to food and his commitment to platforming folks who might otherwise be invisible. He is a natural champion of people and advocates for people’s dignity by supporting their authentic expressions. Mando’s natural exuberance for what he does inspired us to commit to trying more new things and especially taking more active notice of the people around us each day.

Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


Mando Rayo Shares How Taco Journalism Can Change the World

We are excited to share this episode with all of you where we interview Mando Rayo. Mando is an incredible guest. We thought it would be fun to speak with him because he is a taco journalist. He lives in this world of food reporting, and our series is about food insecurity. He seeks out the stories that are not told, those stories that are a little more invisible to the general public. We were like, “This would be interesting to get his perspective on food insecurity in Texas and how we highlight certain stories and diminish other ones.”

It was a fascinating conversation. We learned a lot. Most importantly, for me, the takeaway is I learned to seek out more experiences and be more curious, particularly when it comes to food. I’m one of these people that I like what I like. I’m not as picky as I once was, but I’m like, “It’s good.” In the show, we say, “Get a little uncomfortable. Try new things.” I’m going to take my own medicine and do that when it comes to food establishments.

He is inspiring. I agree. I feel inspired after listening to him. Another great takeaway from Mando is this perfect nexus with the way that he can bring attention to things that are important through a lens that’s light, fun, and interesting. I love the way he marries storytelling with food, sometimes social justice issues or things that are a little bit deeper than the surface might provide at the beginning.

You can lead people down a path of learning more and thinking more deeply about the way that they take in the world. That’s such a great way of giving people medicine or educating people about issues that affect folks that they might not normally pay attention to. It’s doing it in a way that is very digestible, fun, and interesting. It’s a good combination that he represents.

He has so much incredible content. If you read this episode and you’re like, “I need more Mando,” he has a podcast called Tacos of Texas. He has a show called United Tacos of America. He has two books, Austin Breakfast Tacos and The Tacos of Texas, and he has a production company called IDENTITY. He has a lot of great stories that you can dig deeper into. Check out this episode.

We’re excited to continue talking about food insecurity but from a different angle. We are talking with Mando Rayo. We are excited to talk to you because you have a fascinating podcast about tacos. You use that, as you were telling us before the interview, as your gateway to get people to talk about bigger issues like culture and how food is this intersectional issue and how social justice is connected to that. It’s a Trojan horse, which is why we thought it would be fun to talk to you for this episode. Before we get into all that good stuff, we love to ask our guests about who they are and where they come from. Are you from Texas?

I am. I’m originally from El Paso, West Texas. I’m based in Austin. I’ve been here for about many years. By day, I feel like I’m still a community builder. By night, I’m a taco journalist. I try to find some of the tastiest tacos across Texas and beyond.

Since it’s also a political show, we love to know about people’s political journeys. Did you come from a family that talked about politics?

No, not at all, to be honest. My past is in grassroots organizing. That’s how I learned a lot about the local community issues and what people wanted in working with local residents. That’s where I was like, “What’s happening here?” I was then thinking, “Do you see yourself in politics and the people that represent you in all sorts of media as well?” That was where I was like, “There’s something missing there.”

Was there a thing that kicked off that organizing? It could be an experience you had that made you realize, “I don’t see myself reflected in places of power.”

Part of it was starting to work with a lot of different organizations that have been established for a long time, whether it’s a traditional nonprofit, like the United Way to some grassroots movements. I was like, “We’re supporting and building up communities, but we’re not including the community in that process.”

I grew up in the projects. I grew up in low-income parts of El Paso, so I was very connected to the issues of that lived experience. When I started working in Austin and talking to folks in the community, I saw that gap, especially in leadership. You saw it. I’ve been in Austin for decades. I roughly started working in a nonprofit, and we’re still at it.

We love that. You’re answering this, Mando, but I’m still curious. I feel like I’m pretty late to this game. In my mind, it’s easy to dodge being politically aware and active. I’m still like, “What was that thing that got you into even the grassroots activism and those community-building things?”

I don’t know if it was one thing, but it was part of me. I was a recipient of services as I was growing up as a child, and then I saw the circumstances. When I started working professionally, if you want to call it that, it was the way I couldn’t wear this hat. I saw it. It was like, “What’s happening here?” Sometimes, you’re in a room and you don’t see yourselves. You don’t feel welcome. I experienced that a lot and I was like, “That’s it. I want to change it.

I’ll tell you one thing. I co-founded The New Philanthropists. It’s a non-profit organization that helps people of color or BIPOC individuals get into non-profit leadership roles on non-profit boards. There was one thing that did happen. I went through leadership in Austin and did different leadership types of workshops, training, and programs.

All of a sudden, you were sent off and they were like, “Good luck with that.” That was back in 2010. There was only a handful of people of color. There were maybe under 10 people out of 60. I was like, “We need to change that. How do we start making those connecting points?” Do you know who’s going to get access to that? The majority of White people will have that access because of the legacy of board service. While it may not be directly political, it’s about representation. That was a turning point for me.

That’s amazing. I’m thinking about what those kinds of leadership positions mean for those nonprofits when people who hold those spots understand the lived experience of what it is that they are working on. That’s got to be hugely impactful and so important. That’s incredible that you made those connections and were able to see, “I don’t see myself here. I ought to see myself here and more people like me here. What can I do to build that bridge?” The other thing I wanted to point out is he’s wearing a cool hat that’s black and says tacos. That is what he was talking about before when he mentioned the hat. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

It’s all good. I’m a writer. I’m a taco journalist. That’s what I call myself. I’m a community person, but the thing that brings us all together is culture. We have to be okay with being who we are. Not even code-switching, but like, “Can I bring my true self to a board service, to a conversation, or to an interview without masking myself or my culture to be accepted?” At least, that’s my approach.

That reminds me. I read an article where you gave an interview. You were talking about how you were given some feedback to change the way you spoke or some of the things you were saying. I was like, “What?” Is that what you’re referring to?

Yeah, completely. Whether you’re working professionally in a nonprofit, the tech space community, or schools, there’s a certain way that you have to behave. It’s all based on a lot of the history of America. The history of America is based on White culture. If you’re not part of that, then you’re an other. I’ve had conversations. I’m a facilitator as well, so I do workshops around equity and inclusion issues. It’s the way I speak, talk, and also write. It’s the way I converse with you. I’ve had individuals call me out and say, “You need to work on your grammar.” What they’re saying is, “You sound different than me and my majority culture. You need to sound more like us so we can feel safe around this conversation that you’re trying to engage with us.”

What’s coming to mind for me is the idea of you have to diminish yourself a little bit. That’s terrible.

You don’t have to, not anymore.

What’s interesting is that people in power wouldn’t consider that diminishing. They would consider that almost leveling up. There’s that underlying assumption that speaking in a certain way, and we all know what we’re talking about, is more proper. It is indicative of “education” and knowing how to be polite and navigate certain spaces.

Interestingly, I agree. It would be a diminishment of who somebody is and their authentic self. For some folks, it’s the opposite. They would see it as, “You’re rising to the level that you could be. You’re living up to your potential.” It’s good to push back on that. I wonder too, Mando. For folks who aren’t familiar with the term code-switching, would you mind digging in on that?

The way I see code-switching is this ability where I can use my own vernacular, which is the maybe underrepresented vernacular versus the majority cultures’ way of talking. Code-switching, for me, is where I can have a conversation with my community. A lot of what I do is Spanglish. When we get together, it’s comfortable. It’s the way we talk. Let’s say you’re in a job interview or you’re doing a presentation. Code-switching would be not utilizing your full vernacular but adhering to the majority cultures.

What they see is this ability to speak in their terms and their language. Code-switching is the idea of doing, at least from my experience, those two. We need to do away with code-switching. Unfortunately, we still have to do that. People of color have to do that to get ahead. When you think about who is in those leadership and decision-making roles and they don’t have an understanding of your culture, then you’re going back to this idea of like, “They’re not up to this level because they’re not part of my majority culture level,” if you will. Does that make sense?

Yeah. It’s very gatekeeper-y.

There’s an assumption about intelligence that’s built into that, too, that’s completely false.

Tell us what a taco journalist is.

It’s a person that can use the strengths of their culture to tell a story. Oftentimes, in food writing, you see that outsiders are coming in. We can call them guests that go into a community. They interview you and talk about the food. Maybe they can get some background information on you, but it doesn’t go beyond that.

I feel a taco journalist digs deep into those layers around identity and food traditions. At least for me, you don’t have to explain it to me. I understand it. I live it. I see it. I grew up with it. Mexican background is part of my culture. For me, it’s one of those things where you’re able to dig deeper because of that lived experience.

You then look around like, “What are the surrounding issues around that?” versus going into a restaurant or a taco truck and thinking about some of their food. There are traditions, but what are the local issues surrounding that? What are the biases even around food culture, especially with Mexican food?

It’s digging deep around what it means when you can afford a $2 taco along one street here in East Austin and then at the end of that road, you have a $20 taco plate. Who can afford to eat at those establishments? It’s about identity, food, and how food is a connecting point for different people. It’s thinking about a lot of issues around migration patterns and immigration.

We did a story on the Austin Taco Mile in North Austin in the Rundberg area. We were thinking about some of the issues within that community and how people navigate, whether it’s high poverty areas, high crime, hunger, and those kinds of issues. I do feel like taco journalism goes deep into some of those layers.

I’m curious why tacos are your entry point, and then if you could explain to us what food tells us about who we are in our communities.

I grew up with a tortilla in my hand. It’s part of my culture. It’s about what are the first fondest memories you have. If you identify as Mexican or Latino, what are the smells of the kitchen or the outdoors, or the tortillas on the comal with mantequilla? When we get together as a community or even in family celebrations, there’s a lot of food. Food is part of the culture. It’s an extension of the culture, so you can’t separate the two.

GBTB – DFY Mando Rayo | Taco Journalism
Taco Journalism: When we get together as a community or even for family celebrations, there’s a lot of food. Food is part of the culture. It’s an extension of the culture, so you can’t separate the two.


For me, focusing on tacos naturally happened. I always had a taco radar, so I knew where the good places were. I was telling people all the time. When we were doing a lot of grassroots organizing and business people wanted to help and support, I’m like, “Let’s go meet at a taco shop. I’m not going to go meet you at Chez Zee in West Austin.”

It’s this idea of if you want to understand communities, you have to go into a community. You can’t support a community in West Austin when you’re serving East Austin, Northeast Austin, or South Austin. It doesn’t matter. You got to embed yourself in a community to understand it. I do feel like food is a great connecting point. It goes deeper when we share a meal together. As they say, you break bread. For us, we tear tortillas and then make ourselves some tacos. It’s good.

You’re making me think of this memory. As a kid, my mom, for breakfast, would always give me a tortilla with avocado and salt. That was all I wanted to eat. It’s the original avocado toast. Who knew? It’s the best. It’s still my favorite thing.

Claire, where’s your mom from?

She grew up in Del Rio, Texas. Her family is from Múzquiz, which is right across the border in the State of Coahuila, Mexico. The best tortillas are my mom’s, which I cannot replicate because she doesn’t have a legit recipe. She’s like, “You add a little bit more flour.”

They didn’t write it down. It was by taste.

Every time I try to make tortillas, they taste like crackers because it’s so hard to get them right. That’s my mission in life. Also, Mexican rice. Every time I call, she like, “Add a little more water. You add a little more of this.” I’m like, “I can’t do it.”

Cooking is a process. It’s about seeing what works and what doesn’t until you hone in and perfect it.

GBTB – DFY Mando Rayo | Taco Journalism
Taco Journalism: Cooking is a process. It’s about seeing what works and what doesn’t until you hone in on it and perfect it.


I am over here like, “I have a good recipe for Spanish rice that maybe you guys would want to try.” I feel like I’m trying to hop in here and see where I fit, but I don’t feel excluded because I am an appreciator of all things Mexican food. I enjoy the eating part. I don’t know how authentic my cooking would ever be.

Even in Texas, a lot of our food is rooted in practices that we learned and borrowed from each other and indigenous cooking practices of former African slaves and Black slaves. When you talk about the roots of barbecue in Texas, I know all the White pit masters get all the fame and glory, but you got to dig deep into where that practice comes from.

When you think about certain dishes and the Chinese that worked on the railroads in West Texas, it is the influence of that in a dish that we call Scala, which is made from a Mexican wok. Here, they call it a cowboy wok. There are a lot of roots in Texas that we don’t think, “Where does that practice come from? Where do we learn these practices from? Also, do we honor and respect those food traditions and where they came from?” That’s super important for me.

This segues a little bit into your show, United Tacos of America. There is an interview that you gave where you said, “We want to highlight the social issues that are connected to the food, immigration, vendor rights, gentrification, and the respect of the culture.” Can you talk more about the connection between those things that you’ve noticed throughout your show?

That’s part of thinking about digging deep as a taco journalist, whether it’s the United Tacos of America show or the Tacos of Texas Podcast. It’s all interconnected. The thing is people that think, “Why are you talking about immigrants when you’re talking about this delicious food?” I’m like, “Where do you think this food comes from?”

For us, it’s around peeling away at those layers of understanding those food traditions, where they come from, and what are the issues that are associated with it because they are. Vendor rights are important because of immigrants that are cooking the food. That’s the food that you’re able to get. You can take a nice photo for Instagram and what have you, but you got to take a few steps back into what that story is.

You can take a nice photo for Instagram and what have you, but you got to take a few steps back into what that story is. Taco journalism goes deep into some of those layers. Share on X

It’s then thinking about how immigrants are ostracized in this country and in Texas. Even somebody that’s trying to sell tamales over the holidays, we got the Karens of the world calling the health department. I’m like, “Our families have been doing this for ages. You don’t have to have this establishment to support your family.”

It’s all these layers of community issues, whether they’re cultural issues or actual policy issues where you think about a lot of biases. There are a lot of biases. There are a lot of negative stereotypes out there, and a lot of them are rooted in racism. For us, it’s about dispelling some of that, and then having a conversation about what that means when you’re saying, “Let me call the police on this individual,” or, “Let me call the health department on this individual.”

You mentioned something that maybe there’s a level of it or understanding with vendor rights. Can you talk about what that’s about?

I’ll give you a couple of examples in Texas and possibly one of the biggest ones out in California as well. In Austin, back in the ‘90s, they were trying to shut down the taco trucks because there are a lot of negative stereotypes that aren’t based on actual facts. It was that they’re unsanitary, there’s crime around that area, and those kinds of things. People were trying to figure it out like, “Let’s shut them down because they don’t look like us. They’re bringing the neighborhood down.”

There’s been a lot of work done in Austin for worker rights. Part of that, the vendors and the workers, whether the construction workers or the person serving you the taco, it’s about making sure that they’re not harassed for trying to set up their own business. One of the fastest-growing cities in the US is Austin, but then, we don’t have enough rights for them to take water breaks, especially in the summer.

The Workers Defense Fund has done a lot of work here locally around those issues. When you think about what are their rights as an establishment or as a business that their counterparts may be more White affluent restaurants and chefs don’t have to deal with. Nobody is calling the health department on them because they’re in a certain part of town.

In California, the idea of street vendors was big, and it’s still big. They decriminalized street vending. If you set up shop on the street in LA, you could be fined or arrested for that. They decriminalize that, which is amazing. That’s part of this idea of making sure that folks, whether they’re struggling restaurateurs trying to set up a taco shop, a trailer, or a stand, that they have the same rights because they’re contributing to the growth of cities here in Texas and in America. Ensure that they have those rights. Those rights should be protected.

GBTB – DFY Mando Rayo | Taco Journalism
Taco Journalism: Whether it’s a struggling restaurateur trying to set up a taco shop, a trailer, or a stand, they have the same rights because they’re contributing to the growth of cities in Texas and in America. Those rights should be protected.


I’m having this connection. I don’t know if this is accurate. I feel like the folks who are being very critical of street vendors and taco trucks and wanting to regulate and make sure they’re safe are probably the same folks who are like, “They are big corporations. Leave them alone.” The disparity and unfairness that I imagine are there.

Being part of that is rooted in those biases that people have and believing in those stereotypes. If you Google East Austin in 2023, one of the top questions that you see is, “Is East Austin safe?” Many years ago, that’s the same story that’s been going on. When you think about who is getting pushed out of East Austin, there are a lot of White people with fancy dogs in East Austin.

Going to the 812 flea market or 23 South heading towards the airport, that place is its own world. It’s beautiful. It’s a flea market. It is at its best. You can buy barbacoa by the pound. You can buy some fruits, vegetables, or whatever you need for the week. You get entertained by a good banda out there.

There are also a lot of people that are like, “I don’t know. Is that place for me? Am I safe there?” That’s rooted in those biases. It is safe because they want to serve you. They want to cook for you. They want to make sure that you support them as a business. There are, unfortunately, a lot of stereotypes out there that are not true and that maybe prohibit people from connecting with each other.

There are, unfortunately, a lot of stereotypes out there that are not true and that may prevent people from connecting with each other. Share on X

We might also want to, for folks who are not in Austin, talk about the I-35 dividing line and the history of that. When we say East Austin, I feel like the three of us get that easily, but folks who are not from here may not quite get that.

It’s part of the legacy of the 1928 master plan. First of all, don’t quote me on this. I know it’s being recorded. Back then, in the 1920s, Austin’s African-American population was about 35%. Through the 1928 plan, they created these undesirable communities for White people. Mexicans lived in West downtown. There was a chili factory there. It’s like in San Antonio with the chili queens. There was a chili factory in West downtown Austin even by the courthouse where it is a Republic Square park. There are African-Americans that live in Clarksville, Wheatville, and then in all parts of town.

What they did is they said, “You can no longer live here. You have to live on the other side of Austin going towards the East.” What did they do to get people to go over there? They shut their lights off. They shut the services off. If you wanted to make sure that your kids go to school, you have to go over there. That’s the legacy that we’re still dealing with. They forcibly moved a lot of the Mexicans and the African-Americans that were here in Austin towards the eastern part of town.

When they built the I-35, that’s what clinched it. There was separation. We’re still dealing with a lot of that, whether it’s thinking about the infrastructure that West Austin gets versus East Austin. Some of the core issues are going further out. It’s going further East Austin. You could see a lot of these issues around poverty. Even thinking about health and environmental issues, it’s all connected to that. Who thrives? It’s the people that the system was set up for. It’s the majority of White people in Austin.

A lot of nonprofits and grassroots organizing groups are working towards bringing equity forward versus thinking, “Aren’t we all the same? That wasn’t that 50-plus years ago. What’s the problem?” When you have a leg up, you can say that. When you don’t, it’s hard to look at your generational wealth and what that means for a community. That’s a little bit of the history. The Austin American-Statesman has a great video. They did multiple articles as well as a couple of videos. It shows you a part of that 1928 master plan and how it impacts Austin. I would Google that as well.

You’re hitting on this. Speaking of poverty, as we’ve been researching food insecurity, we’ve learned that 1 in 8 Texans is food insecure, but it’s 1 in 5 Hispanics that is food insecure in Texas. How are Hispanic families getting by?

It’s the way most poor people have done it over time. They’re resourceful. They support each other. They have a strong informal support network. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get the help that they need. Unfortunately, if you’re growing up in a poor part of town in Texas and you’re Latino, more than likely, you’re going to work at a younger age. You have to grow up faster because there’s a lot of trauma that you grew up with and you’re dealing with. You have to deal with grownup issues. You have that, but at the same time, it is immigrant and Latino perseverance. You want the best for your family to get ahead, and you do it. You chip away.

I know that you speak a lot in your shows up to the mom-and-pop owners of businesses. What has their experience been like with inflation and the rising cost of food? How are they making things still work for them and their businesses?

It’s hard, especially during the pandemic. A lot of them shut down. There were a lot of connective issues related to that, like the affordability of food and the access even to staff and employees. Part of how they’re doing it is honing in on their own communities. Where are they and how can they provide a service to their own communities? It’s then figuring out, “Maybe we do have to increase some of the pricing.”

Eggs are a big thing. When we walk about the original urban farmers, it is a lot of Latinos and Blacks that had their own flock. They had their chickens. It’s not this trendy thing. It’s this idea of connecting back to our roots and the land. If a lot of businesses own their property, that’s a big leg up, but most don’t. It’s then trying to figure out, “Maybe I can continue with my truck or a popup,” or what have you.

What most people do is pulga on the internet, which is the Facebook marketplace. Pulga is a flea market. There are people putting their stuff out there. They’re trying to do the best that they can with what they have. That has been the story of Latinos here in Texas, the US, as well as Mexico. This whole idea around immigration and what have you, we’ve always been here. Texas was Mexico. We need to remind people about that, too.

It all goes back to figuring out how you can cut corners, getting something that’s more affordable, limiting your hours, or doing high impact and high volume towards where the community is, whether it’s at the flea market or elsewhere. There are a lot of issues that small business owners and mom-and-pop shops have been going through in the last few years.

I don’t know about you, Claire, but I’m thinking again about invisibility and how important it is, Mando, that you are shining a light on folks, their businesses, and this world. Many of us, including myself, are unaware. If we don’t see something right outside our front door, it’s hard to be aware of it. I’m so glad that you’re bringing a voice to people.

My dad is an immigrant, too. He came here in his twenties. I can remember having conversations with him. He is a junk man. There is an auction that he does not love or there is no auction he doesn’t love. He loves to buy a box for $5. Who knows what’s inside? Everything for him is a treasure. He has all these funny habits. He’ll hide cash in weird places throughout the house. It’s treasure hunting when he can discover money. He has all these funny habits.

He grew up poor. When you have not been used to the plenty, I know that I have grown up with, at some points in my life, how resourceful you are. I’m making that connection to how folks who live in poverty truly do make it work whatever it takes. We want to applaud that resourcefulness, but also not make it so hard.

They do it because of necessity, not because of, “I want to do it this way.” That’s a big difference when you’re like, “I got to grow my own food. I have to have 2 or 3 jobs because of necessity.” It’s not because, “I’m going to try this new career.” Necessity is a big idea that you’re here to provide. If you want, whether it’s yourself, your family, your children, or a neighbor to thrive, then you do it out of necessity. At the core, that’s what it comes down to.

You were touching on this earlier. It’s about this idea of how we, people, are creatures of comfort. We don’t stray too far away from what we’re familiar with. How do you encourage people to try a new place or go to the 812 flea market? How do you encourage people to go to these places and explore? How do you get them excited about that?

A lot of it is the story itself. Once you share somebody’s story, we can see connecting points. Part of that is like, “Sometimes, it is okay to go to a new place, try something new, and support them.”
Language could be a barrier for non-Spanish speakers, but I’m pretty sure most people that go eat at Mexican restaurants know restaurant Spanish. You don’t have to. You point to the menu and say, “This is what I like.”

Sometimes, it is okay to go to a new place, try something new, and support them. Share on X

Part of that is making it accessible. It is a good thing, whether it’s through the stories on my podcast, trying to think about different ways, or talking to people and making it okay for you to try something new. I try to show an example. One of my episodes was called Las Jefecitas, which is Lady Bosses. We connected to a couple of groups of vendors that would set up in a corner in downtown El Paso and sell burritos from 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM. By then, they would sell out.

It’s this idea of like, “You can do that because they’re feeding their communities.” Part of the understanding of that is taking a chance. Going outside of your bubble or circle is what I encourage people to do. It’s not going to the hipster places or trendy taco places, but like, “Let me go try this one spot out. Let me expose myself to different cultures.” That’s super important. You’ll learn a lot. Keep that curiosity mindset forward. You’ll probably be eating some good tacos.

We always encourage curiosity and getting a little uncomfortable in our show. Nicole and I are familiar with it. It’s great. It’s like, “I’m growing and stretching myself.” I’m going to go check out more places and more food establishments because I am terrible when it comes to trying new places. I’m going to do it. This is on my list.

I can help you with one taco at a time.

I’m going to get the book, listen to the podcast, and get my recommendation.

Is that how to do it? Is it exactly what Claire named like to listen to your podcast?

Do all of it. You have to do one thing. Go to a new lunch spot. Go with a friend. You can also listen to my podcast and follow us on Instagram, @UnitedTacosOfAmerica. There are a lot of recommendations there. Go out there and support places that maybe are outside of the regular places you go to. Those are small trailers and mom-and-pop shops.

There’s always a new pop-up coming up in Austin or a new restaurant that has all the bells and whistles. They’re going to get lots of attention. For me, it’s all about the ones that don’t get attention. The ones without the PR budget and the marketing budgets are the ones that are probably going to be hit hardest, whether it’s a pandemic, the economy, or what have you. The ones with the big budgets with PR and marketing are going to be okay.

As we are wrapping up, we are going to transition into our Attention Mentions. This is where we mention something that has our attention. It can be anything. It could be your podcast. It can be a TV show that you’re watching or maybe a cool article that you’ve read. We’re going to go around and share that. Does anything come to mind for you?

I’m always thinking about stories. Sometimes, I have a hunch on certain stories, and then I have to figure out, “Is that true or not?” This is one of the things that’s interesting. A friend of mine is working on renovating Black churches or historic churches throughout Texas. He gave me an insight into former Black slaves and where they ended up in Texas. San Antonio was a big part of that migration from the Deep South.

Also, there are stories about former Black slaves that went to Mexico because Mexico made slavery illegal. That’s part of the big reason why Texans wanted their own independence. People don’t know that, but they should. There’s a story there. I know that because of this was Mexico’s former Black slaves. There’s this union of food sharing or borrowing. I’m hoping we can do something with season three of our podcast, but I’m always interested in those different layers.

Give me some history. I can’t believe how little I know. This is another theme of our show. I and Nicole are like, “How do we not know these things? It’s shameful.” Guess who’s in charge of Texas education, agency, and the State Board of Education? They’re elected people, so we try to be nice to ourselves too.

That’s while trying to throw as much support to them as we can. I had to drive back and forth to Dallas one day on Sunday. I took that opportunity to download an Audiobook and decided to go to new age-y spiritual stuff. It is What You Want Wants You by Suzanne Eder. It’s about exactly what the title is. It’s the idea that your desires lead you to exactly where you’re supposed to go. It’s interesting. Like so many things, it’s also a little confronting, so I’ve had to do a lot of deep thinking. We’re talking about discomfort, so that’s good.

Thanks, Nicole. I’m struggling. I’m like, “Think.” I listen to a lot of podcasts all the time. I love podcasts. A show that’s coming to mind for me is Maintenance Phase. The two hosts talk a lot about diet, culture, and how damaging it is for many of us. There was an episode that they had where they were talking about the recommendations that came out from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They were saying that kids who are obese should be put on diet pills or have gastric bypass surgery. They were very severe recommendations.

Nicole, when this recommendation came out, you sent me the article. We were both like, “What?” They dig into the harm of these recommendations. They’re so smart and interesting. It’s a cool show, but this episode, in particular, made me think more deeply about the messages we said about food, bodies, and all of that. Check it out. We will leave it there. Thank you, Mando, for your time. This is fascinating. We appreciate the encouragement to try new things and all the knowledge that you share with us.

I’m super inspired. I can already picture myself driving around, taking better note of convenience store parking lots that have food trucks in them. I’m like, “Okay.My little one was pointing out there was a food truck that was in a carwash parking lot. Their slogan was, “We don’t make fast food. We make fresh food fast.” Cassidy was like, “I like that.” I was like, “Me too. We’ve got to circle back and go.

That sounds good.

Thanks, everyone. We’ll talk to you soon.

Thank you. I enjoyed it. We’ll share it once it comes out.


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About Mando Rayo

GBTB – DFY Mando Rayo | Taco JournalismMando Rayo’s experience is deep-rooted in Latinx & BIPOC communities and is a 2022 James Beard Foundation Awards finalist and winner of 2 Signal Awards for the Tacos of Texas Podcast.
Mando is a digital story-teller and uses his Latinx identity to inspire and build bridges through his production company, IDENTITY. From working with PBS, El Rey Network, Laredo Taco Company, Ram Trucks, Whataburger, People en Español y más, Mando shares stories through food, culture, documentaries and digital platforms.
Mando is the producer and co-author of the books, ‘Austin Breakfast Tacos’ and ‘The Tacos of Texas book (University of Texas Press) & docu-series with PBS Digital Studios, United Tacos of America TV Show on El Rey Network and the Vitamina T for Tacos children’s book series (Jade Publishing).
Mando’s work has been featured on Bon Appetit Magazine, The Food Network, NPR, The New York Times and SXSW. Recently Mando launched the Tacos of Texas Podcast with NPR’s KUT and KUT Studio in Austin, Texas.

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