Post #627 Tacos Tacos Everywhere!

February 10, 2019 at 1:57 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I was walking down the street in Tijuana, Mexico many years ago with my team members.  It was a Sunday afternoon, we had not yet reported to the office, but I wanted everyone to be sure where it was so I was showing them the way to walk it.  I told them since it was nearby, I wouldn’t be calling for a cab, but they were free to.  I showed them the fastest, safest route then cut them free.  I was going to a nearby mall to wander around and find something to eat.  Some of them came with me, and some did not.  It was Sunday; we weren’t working; they were adults.  They could do as they pleased.  It was November.  It was sunny.  I had grown up less than 200 miles from where I was standing.  So the sight of a tall gentleman in an overcoat, scarf, and gloves did not surprise me.  But I did have to say out loud, although in a soft voice, “It just isn’t that cold.”  I wandered the outdoor market, ate tacos, drank soda, and went back to the hotel to relax.

For me, relaxing means either cooking or reading.  Since I was living in a hotel room for the next several weeks, I was reading.  But I was reading a cookbook I’d picked up that afternoon, and it featured all the wonderful ways to prepare tacos.  Cuz, as most people who’ve read this blog know, I love tacos.  A lot.

Dad was a Marine when we were growing up so we traveled around a lot.  I don’t know when mom learned to make tacos, but I assume it was when they lived in southern California.  It was where all of kids were born, although we left just after my little brother was born, so I don’t remember anything about it.  I was first aware of eating tacos when we lived in upstate New York.  Mom made them the same way every time and it’s the way I love to eat them now.  Corn tortillas fried flat and supple but with a tiny bit of crunch to them.  Hamburger cooked and drained.  Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese.  Chopped onion once in a while, and tabasco sauce when you were feeling adventurous.  A tortilla on your plate with a small mound of hamburger on it.  Top the burger with cheese, then tomatoes, then lettuce.  Fold up the sides of the tortilla, hold it in your hand so the filling doesn’t drop out, tilt your head, and chow down.  It was inevitable that filling dropped out, but that was half the fun.  When the tacos were eaten, you cleaned your plate of everything that fell.  It was so good.

Mom and dad would share stories of eating mounds of tacos, and my sister and dad having taco eating contests where mom just stood at the stove frying tortillas while they shoved them in.  My brother would try to engage my dad in one of these epic contests, but by then dad was older, not losing weight as fast as he used to, and usually declined.

When I was a teenager, I took over the taco making chore and added a little style and substance to the mix.  I introduced salsa to the mix, and sometimes substituted chicken or pork for the burger.  In my late teens, I went through a long bout with depression, and one time sat down and ate two tacos instead of my usual number.  My dad, teasing me and not recognizing the signs of what I was going through, said, “Damn!  Are you in love or something?”  There was no way I could tell him what was really wrong.

As I grew older, and the sun started shining on my soul again, I learned other ways to make tacos.   And as with some many young and stupid people, I assumed that I was discovering new ways that no one else had thought about.  Crispy fried fish went into my tacos.  Sour cream replaced the cheese.  Vegetarian styles involving beans and lentils showed up with regularity.  Flour tortillas replaced corn once in a while.

I love tacos.  Once, I had a conversation with my dad while I was still living at home and said, “You know, when you think about it, tacos would make a great salad.  It’s all in there.”

He said, “I don’t imagine too many people would like that.”

Forty years later, and taco salad is a mainstay in many restaurants, and we have it at home to use up the left over taco fixings.  Go Figure.

So there I was sitting in my room reading about tacos, still full from eating tacos, and my phone rings.  One of my team was getting people together to go for dinner at the restaurant across the street in a few hours.  Did I want to come along?  After about six seconds of thinking about it, I agreed.

The place was nice.  It was about six o’clock and we were the only people there.  For the area, it was an upscale place.  We were the only people there because on Sunday evenings, people there ate later in the evening.  We had an enjoyable time with the staff and the chef came out to introduce himself.

He have us a free appetizer of mini tacos, one per person.  It was one he wanted to try out on Americans before serving them to American tourists and we agreed to give him our opinion.

The tortilla was about two inches across and was grilled so it was soft and pliable and had char marks on it.  Very tasty.  The filling was a meat with queso fresca and salsa.  There were small diced jalapenos scattered on top.  We each took one and folded it up and at them in three quick bites.  They were very good, but none of us recognized the meat.

We tried to ask the question, but he kept putting us off for some reason.  We persisted while giving him our opinion about how good it was.  He finally relented and told us it was tongue.  I’d never eaten tongue before and found that I like it.  Or at least, I liked it in that taco.  But I kept hearing in the back of my brain, one of my favorite comediennes saying, “I don’t like the idea of tasting something that might be tasting me back.”

Still like tacos, and I want to try tongue again sometime.

As always,

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