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A taquito consists of a soft taco shell which has been rolled around a savory filling and then fried. While the taquito is regarded by many as a Mexican dish, it is believed that it was invented in the United States. Taquitos closely resemble the Mexican food known as flautas, and some people use these terms interchangeably. Exact taquito recipes can vary widely, but making this dish usually involves preparing a filling, wrapping soft shells around that filling, and then frying each roll until crisp. It is also possible to purchase taquitos from restaurants and supermarkets.
While many people associate the taquito with Mexican cuisine, and many restaurants in Mexico as well as Mexican restaurants in other countries sell taquitos, it is believed that this food was actually conceived in the US. Specifically, taquitos are attributed by many to a San Diego area tortilla factory owner named Ralph Pesqueria Jr. Tex-Mex food lore holds that Pesqueria devised the taquito in the 1940s as a strategy for increasing his product sales. His invention caught on, and quickly gained popularity in the US and beyond.
In addition to the fact that taquitos are often sold in restaurants and by street vendors that specialize in Mexican items, another reason that they are frequently misidentified as a traditional Mexican dish is that they closely resemble a popular Mexican food called the flauta. The primary difference between flautas and taquitos is that the former is made with a flour tortilla, while the latter is made with a corn tortilla. Despite this distinction, many people use the two terms interchangeably.
When making taquitos, most cooks begin by preparing a filling. While taquitos as Pesqueria first devised them were filled with shredded beef, they can be made with a wide variety of fillings. Popular choices include chicken, pork, steak, cheese, vegetables, or a combination of these. A small amount of filling is spooned onto a corn tortilla, which is then tightly rolled into a tube shape. This “tube” is then fried in hot oil until crisp, and finally served with toppings like sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.
Those who wish to purchase premade taquitos may be able to find them in the freezer section of their local supermarket. Generally, frozen taquitos are prepared in an oven or microwave. It is also possible to order taquitos from many Mexican restaurants and food carts, as well as many fast-food restaurants.