A Tacography of Mexico
As in biology, diversity is a good indicator of culinary origin
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
Charles de Gaulle, exasperated by his countrymen, once asked of France: "How can you expect to govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?"  If culinary diversity is an indicator for political instability, then there can't be much hope for Italy, with over 350 different pasta shapes , or Mexico, with its innumerable varieties of taco.
The taco is the genius of simplicity applied to food preparation. It is a tortilla  folded or rolled around almost any type of food, which can then be eaten by hand. A staple of the Mexican diet for thousands of years before the Spanish Conquest in the 15th century, the taco has now conquered the rest of the world, beginning with the United States from the early 20th century onwards.
But no matter how all-American (and subsequently global) the taco has now become, its pedigree remains undisputedly Mexican, as demonstrated by the rich regional diversity of taco styles shown on this map .
"The gastronomic map of [Mexico] is so varied that only the most delicious tacos have made the grade, and only if they are deemed to be typical of a certain region or state", says the legend of this tacografia of Mexico. It lists taco specialities for all 31 of Mexico's states and its federal district .
Even this summary - rich, varied, spicy - is more than we can stomach; to provide just enough flavour, without killing your geographic taste buds, please find below an alphabetic list of each of Mexico's territories, plus one of its specialities.
As even this brief overview shows, tacos are extremely adaptable to what each region has to offer: filled with beef, pork or seafood, vegetables, eggs or cheese; garnished with all kinds of pepper, greens and salsa. Some of the regional favourites are depicted on the map - from the cows that will become beef, and the pigs that will turn into pork . Much, much more on the history (and the preparation) of tacos can be found in La Tacopedia, the book from which this cartographic overview (by way of index) has been taken.
Previous examples of culinary cartography posted on this blog include a discussion of Switzerland's Röstigraben (#257), France's curious pain au chocolat dichotomy (#585), and an overview of its different types of bread: fortunately, a mere 80 varieties, Mon Général (#94).
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 "Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays où il existe 246 variétés de fromage?" A rhetorical question of course, meant to illustrate the peculiar talent of the French to disagree among each other. As it happens, the disagreement extends to the tally of French cheeses itself: France is sometimes called 'The land of the 300 cheeses' - but also 'The land of a thousand cheeses', and of any in between. One charming but unverifiable theory holds that there is one distinct French cheese for each day of the year (giving a total of 365). About 40 cheeses are protected under the Apellations d'origine contrôlée (AOC) scheme. However, there does seem to be agreement on the eight main families of French cheese: fromages frais (fresh cheeses), fromages à pâte molle et croute fleurie (soft cheeses with natural rind), fromages à pâte molle et croute lavée (soft cheeses with washed rind), fromages à pâte pressée (pressed cheeses), fromages à pâte pressée et cuite (pressed and cooked cheeses), fromages de chêvre (goat's cheeses), fromages à pâte persillées (blue cheeses), fromages à pâte fondue (processed cheeses).
 According to this Italophile website.
 Yes, I hear you ask, but what then is a tortilla? Literally, in Spanish, a 'small torta' (cake). Mainly, however, a type of thin flatbread originally made from maize by the first peoples of Mexico, later also from flour after the Spanish Conquistadores brought over wheat from Europe. Tortillas remain a staple food in Central America, have become ubiquitous in North America, and have even been adopted for use in space, where they have proven easier to handle than 'traditional' bread. They are an essential ingredient for many traditional Mexican dishes, including tacos, burritos (folded shut, unlike the half-closed taco), and enchiladas (usually folded in half, calzone-style), but also as the basis for tortilla chips.
 As in biology, diversity can be a good indicator of culinary origin.
 If that sounds vaguely reminiscent of the US setup, it is no coincidence. The official title of the federal state is Estados Unidos Mexicanos ('United Mexican States'), obviously inspired by the revolutionary republicanism of the United States of America. Compare the name of the short-lived Belgian republic (Jan-Dec 1790): États-Belgiques-Unis ('United Belgian States').
 The double names are explained thus: the animals were raised by Anglo-Saxon farmers (hence cow, sheep, pig), but eaten by their Norman, French-speaking masters (hence beef, mutton, pork).
What makes an excellent educator?
- When it comes to educating, says Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, a brave failure is preferable to timid success.
- Fostering an environment where one isn't afraid to fail is tantamount to learning.
- Human beings are complicated and flawed. Working with those complications and flaws leads to true knowledge.
"It's about having employees that are empowered."
Denmark may be the birthplace of the Lego tower, but its workplace hierarchy is the flattest in the world.
According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2018, the nation tops an index measuring "willingness to delegate authority" at work, beating 139 other countries.
We all know sleeping with your ex is a bad idea, or is it?
- In the first study of its kind, researchers have found sex with an ex didn't prevent people from getting over their relationship.
- Instead of feeling worse about their breakup after a hookup, the new singles who attempted sexual contact with their ex reported feeling better afterwards.
- The findings suggest that not every piece of relationship advice is to be taken at face value.
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