Tacos, gumbo, and work
Research into the narrative and interpretation of how undocumented food vendors navigate formal systems raises questions about the relationship between labor, entrepreneurship, migration, and regulation. From taco truck owners to restaurateurs, Latinx food vendors are emblematic of the New Orleans post-Katrina recovery, initially feeding workers who were fundamental in rebuilding the devastated region. Despite the important role they continue to fill and their growing popularity among the non-Latinx community, these foodways purveyors face challenges in accessing political and cultural legitimacy. Using a multi-sited ethnographic framework this research follows workers from Honduras to New Orleans to analyze how these individuals negotiate social policies and precarious economies. Building on accompaniment methodology this study employs community-engaged research to get a more holistic analysis of these migration experiences and adds to the growing field of cultural producer-oriented scholarship. Centering on the shifts in policy and inconsistencies of legislation I argue that the regulation of food vendors maps onto the criminalization of undocumented individuals. Yet despite these vulnerabilities, these narratives demonstrate how Latinx communities are able to forge their own cultural, economic, and political spaces.