An interesting and slick documentary series with enough cultural specificity to season its subject.
Food documentaries have always been a huge part of Netflix’s streaming catalog, and its latest, the six-part, distinctly Mexican The Taco Chronicles, fits right in. It employs a number of the usual food documentary tropes, enough to garner the viewer’s attention and lull them into relaxation, but then sneaks in enough educational content and cultural specificity to be fulfilling for the brain, not just the stomach.
Who knew tacos were so complicated? Of course, no food is ever just its ingredients. There’s a lot of history and culture behind each variety of taco, and The Taco Chronicles does well to dispense its information both through expert chefs and also the eating public. The fun informational tone works to communicate the importance and depth of cultural cuisine, while the series also ensures that the food makes a big enough impression on its own.
There’s also a conscious effort made in The Taco Chronicles to communicate the spirit of Mexico, both through music and through impressive photography of the local geography. The camera knows when to take in the sights from a distance and when to hone in on the hustle and bustle of markets and centers of commerce. It’s a far cry from the usual on-screen treatment of Mexico as a nexus of criminality and poverty, and while the series features many cultural touchstones, it doesn’t make the mistake of assuming that, say, a Mariachi band gets right to the heart of Mexican culture.
Foodies, then, can rejoice, since The Taco Chronicles is a comprehensive and informative compendium of all things taco. It doesn’t revolutionize the food-show format, but it definitely does enough to distinguish itself from the pack while also taking the time to satisfy a hungry audience. By tapping into more diverse audiences and subjects with tried-and-true filmmaking techniques, Netflix is putting in the work to entertain and educate a global market.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.