» Law­maker pro­poses mak­ing ta­cos of­fi­cial state dish,

Chili has held that ti­tle for 40 years, but two bills push tor­tilla treat.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Marty Toohey mtoohey@states­man.com

Ta­cos or chili? That is the spicy ques­tion state Rep. Gina Hi­no­josa of Austin has dropped on the plates of her fel­low law­mak­ers. On Fri­day, the dead­line to file most kinds of leg­is­la­tion, Hi­no­josa pro­posed nam­ing the taco the of­fi­cial state food — sup­plant­ing chili, which has been the of­fi­cial dish of Texas since 1977, atop the state’s food pan­theon.

Hi­no­josa said her pro­posal was writ­ten by jour­nal­ist Mando Rayo. Rayo started an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for the taco to sup­plant chili as “The Na­tional Food of Texas” — a pe­ti­tion that more than 1,000 peo­ple had signed onto be­fore he de­liv­ered a ver­sion of it writ­ten in leg­is­la­tion-ese ear­lier this year to Hi­no­josa, a Demo­crat who rep­re­sents North Austin.

“I just got a real kick out of (the pro­posal),” Hi­no­josa said, “so we filed it.”

Hi­no­josa said she does not know whether leg­is­la­tors will have the stom­ach for a taco vs. chili de­bate, given that they have meatier is­sues to chew on, such as the state bud­get. She said she is reach­ing out to San An­to­nio law­mak­ers to en­sure that the pro­posal, House Con­cur­rent Res­o­lu­tion 110, does not in­ad­ver­tently re­heat the spicy rhetoric that belched forth last year dur­ing the In­ter­state 35 taco war —acon­flict that cooled only af­ter the may­ors of Austin and San An­to­nio reached an un­easy truce.

Even if lead­ers of the two cities can set aside the ri­valry, Hi­no­josa’s leg­is­la­tion does risk spread­ing the con­flict to any part of the state where peo­ple have strong feel­ings about tacosor chili — any­where in Texas, re­ally. She filed

her pro­posal mere days af­ter state Rep. Stephanie Klick had of­fered a way to rec­og­nize ta­cos with­out pit­ting them against chili.

Klick, a Fort Worth Repub­li­can, wants to des­ig­nate break­fast ta­cos “the of­fi­cial state break­fast item of Texas.” Her House Con­cur­rent Res­o­lu­tion 92 de­clares that de­spite “a spir­ited de­bate (that) has arisen over which part of the state orig­i­nated the break­fast taco ... no mat­ter where or when it got its start, the break­fast taco has quickly be­come pop­u­lar with both na­tive Tex­ans and de­lighted vis­i­tors from across the na­tion.”

Klick, who said she makes break­fast ta­cos at home and counts Torchy’s and Rudy’s among her fa­vorites, said she filed the leg­is­la­tion partly as an ed­u­ca­tional ex­er­cise. Her of­fice is work­ing with sev­eral schools whose civics classes are track­ing the break­fast taco leg­is­la­tion.

“It is a good les­son in how a bill be­comes a law,” Klick said. “It’s a non­con­tro­ver­sial is­sue, and it’s fun.”

The break­fast taco can spark pas­sions, though. The I-35 taco war started early last year when an Austin Eater ar­ti­cle de­clared the state cap­i­tal the dish’s birth­place. Soon af­ter, a San An­to­nio res­i­dent started a pe­ti­tion to kick the writer out of Texas. San An­to­ni­ans cried that the break­fast taco claim was yet an­other ex­am­ple of Austin ar­ro­gance, a charge Austin Mayor Steve Adler an­swered by declar­ing the taco war.

Klick’s pro­posal does not ad­dress which break­fast ta­cos are best — or which city. But it does go on to state, “Whether pur­chased at a drive-through in Fort Worth, or­dered at a restau­rant in Cor­pus Christi, or served by a lov­ing grand­mother in Del Rio, the break­fast taco has be­come a sig­na­ture Texas food on a par with bar­be­cue and chicken-fried steak, and it is en­joyed by count­less res­i­dents of the Lone Star State each morn­ing as the per­fect way to start their day.”

Hi­no­josa has sim­i­larly ebul­lient praise for the taco. Her pro­posal de­clares, “As far as fill­ings go, we de­light in such tra­di­tional choices as pork al pas­tor, beef bar­ba­coa, and chicken fa­jita, and we also ap­pre­ci­ate the more ex­otic in­gre­di­ents that have been pressed into ser­vice, in­clud­ing ev­ery­thing from oc­to­pus to elk to kim­chi fried rice.”

MATTHEW ODAM / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

A break­fast taco, huevos a la Mex­i­cana, from Ta­cos Mi­choa­can in Austin. A Fort Worth leg­is­la­tor has called for mak­ing ta­cos the state’s of­fi­cial break­fast food.

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