Pastor is a savory and aromatic dish that is an integral part of Mexican cuisine. Known for its rich flavors and vibrant colors, it has gained international acclaim as a delicious and satisfying street food. In this article, we will delve into Pastor in the food context, explore its definition, culinary significance, variations, potential risks, and provide a popular recipe for you to enjoy. Additionally, we will touch upon the historical and legal aspects of this delectable dish.

Definition and Culinary Significance: Pastor, short for Tacos al Pastor, is a Mexican dish featuring marinated and spit-grilled pork, typically served with tortillas and garnished with onions, cilantro, and pineapple. The name "Pastor" translates to "shepherd" in Spanish, likely referring to the method of cooking where the marinated pork is stacked on a vertical rotisserie, resembling the shepherd's staff. This culinary creation is influenced by Lebanese immigrants who brought the concept of shawarma to Mexico, resulting in the fusion of Middle Eastern and Mexican flavors.

Culinary Uses and Popular Recipe: Pastor is most commonly enjoyed as Tacos al Pastor, where thinly sliced marinated pork is stacked on a vertical rotisserie and cooked slowly as it rotates. Here's a popular recipe for making homemade Tacos al Pastor:


  • 1 kg thinly sliced pork shoulder or leg
  • 4-6 dried guajillo chilies, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 dried ancho chilies, seeds and stems removed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Corn tortillas
  • Chopped white onion, fresh cilantro, and pineapple for garnish


  1. Toast the dried chilies in a hot, dry skillet until they become fragrant and slightly puffy. Remove from heat.
  2. Soak the toasted chilies in hot water for about 20 minutes until they become soft.
  3. Drain the chilies and blend them with garlic, onion, vinegar, oregano, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, salt, and pepper until you have a smooth, red paste.
  4. Marinate the sliced pork in the chili paste for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.
  5. Thread the marinated pork slices onto a vertical rotisserie or spit.
  6. Grill the pork on high heat, shaving off the crispy outer layers as it cooks.
  7. Serve the sliced pork in warm corn tortillas and garnish with chopped white onion, fresh cilantro, and pineapple.

Variations and Risks: Variations of Pastor can include chicken or beef instead of pork for those with dietary preferences. Risks associated with eating Pastor primarily involve food safety, as undercooked meat can lead to foodborne illnesses. Ensure that the pork is thoroughly cooked before consumption.

Historical and Legal Context: The history of Tacos al Pastor can be traced back to the mid-20th century when Lebanese immigrants introduced the concept of spit-grilled meats in Mexico. As for legal aspects, there are no specific legal restrictions associated with the preparation and sale of Tacos al Pastor, but food safety regulations must be adhered to.

Similar Dishes:

  • Shawarma (Middle Eastern)
  • Gyros (Greek)
  • Doner Kebab (Turkish)

Summary: Pastor, particularly in the form of Tacos al Pastor, is a mouthwatering Mexican culinary tradition that showcases the fusion of Middle Eastern and Mexican flavors. The marinated and spit-grilled pork, combined with garnishes, creates a flavorful and satisfying street food experience. While enjoying this delicious dish, it's essential to ensure proper food safety measures to relish the tastes of Mexico without any risks. So, next time you have the opportunity, savor the savory delights of Pastor in the heart of Mexico or in your own kitchen.