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November 22, 2012

Seventy years of Latino food history are encapsulated in "FOOD: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000," an exhibit opening at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 20. The exhibition draws on the museum's Bracero farm labor collection and highlights new objects collected to show the influence of immigrants and migrants on the American table, including the diffusion of Mexican-inspired food into all corners of the country.

Displays in “The Mexican Food Revolution” section include:

*The Sanchez/Bermudez Family Story of Tortilla Making. Items in this section include a Molino (corn mill) and a tortilladora (press) called "La Rotativa" that dates from about 1923.

*The Cuellar Family and El Chico Restaurants. Featured items include El Chico menus and food packaging, the El Chico Cookbook and a red, green and white embroidered and sequined China poblana-style dress Miss El Chico wore for promotional and special events.

*The Velasquez Family and Azteca Foods Inc. The Azteca story shows how the tortilla moved from an ethnic food to a popular everyday staple. Azteca flour tortilla packaging from 1970 and a tortilla shell mold from 1987 are showcased in the exhibit.

*Mariano Martinez and the Frozen Margarita Machine. The exhibit showcases the machine Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez of Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine created with John Hogan by adapted a soft-serve ice-cream machine to make margarita "slush.”

*The Bracero/Farm Labor Story. The Emergency Farm Labor Program, known as the Bracero Program (1942-1964), recruited two million Mexican nationals to work in the U.S. Exhibit visitors can see a hat Bracero Savas Zahvala Castro wore in the California fields, as well as a short-handled hoe known as el cortito.

*The Robledo Family and Winemaking. The exhibition features a stool from the winery's tasting room that is evocative of a Mexican hacienda as well as a budding box and other tools used by family members.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu/food.

And watch for a feature story about some of the people and companies showcased in the exhibit in the Winter 2013 issue of el Restaurante Mexicano coming in February.

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November 22, 2012