Do you think there may have been a bet at Salon that Mark Dery couldn't mix in a Derrida reference in an article about Taco Bell? Well, he won:
With these thoughts as an amuse-bouche, I take my first bite. I chomp through the millimeter-thin shell, flavorful as corn-fed cardboard and eerily crunchless in the soggy-armpit humidity of a New York summer. Chewing, I ruminate on the L.A. Weekly food writer Jonathan Gold's comment to me, "I don't think there's any such thing as authentic Mexican food" -- this from a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic who also told me, with palpable excitement, about his lard connection, a guy who sells "manteca de carnitas ... the liquid lard rendered in the process of making carnitas [fried pork], liquid gold. I fried a few batches of chicken in it last night, accompanied by fiery red salsa and homemade tortillas, and I'm pretty sure I saw god herself."
So what is Gold, a guy who admits he "did plow through most of the Semiotext(e), Frankfurt school, poststructural stuff" in his 20s, saying? That Jacques Derrida had it right when he dropped the chalupa on Western philosophy? Derrida argued that meaning can never be pinned down, since we define every concept in a system of knowledge using terms from within that system. In other words, there is no cosmic meaning that stands outside a self-referential system -- no "transcendental signified," to use Derrida's term. Or, in this case, no authentic Mexicanismo. No transcendental taco to which all tacos refer.