An Homage To The Great TACO
I’ve been stuffing myself silly in Mexico. It’s hard not to. The food has history and a range of flavors and ingredients that are simply put, amazing!
There’s a lot to Mexican cuisine but I’m dedicating this post to my first Mexican food love, TACOS. This post is quite simply, raw, in your face, unapologetic food porn. You’re welcome.
Go ahead, let yourself shamelessly drool over it. Get lost in the fantasy. Just imagine these beauties lifting to your lips, inhaling the fragrant potency of bright chili aromas just before the flavors burst in your mouth…Oh Mexico, you taste so good!
Tacos. There’s more to it than you think though. You’ve got spit tacos and grill tacos. Way back when, Arab migration heavily influenced and some would argue, made Spanish cuisine what it is. So when the Spanish Conquistadors showed up to Mexico in the 16th century, they brought with them their Arab-influenced foods and spices such as cumin, black peppercorns, and cinnamon. Cattle, pigs and the concept of frying was all brought with the Spanish just to name a few important ingredients and techniques. This is why that tTacos al pastor roasting on a spit looks a lot like a gyro. In the region of Puebla, they are even served on pita and called tacos Arabes.
Baja style tacos are perfectly breaded and fried fillets of fish heaven. The type of fish used varies depending on availability but white-fleshed, mild, saltwater fish like snapper,mahi mahi, grouper, flounder, halibut or cod are most common. Topped with a little bit of spicy pickled cabbage slaw, some fresh salsa and a squeeze of lime, you’ve got yourself one tasty and bright, flavor-packed meal. The rest of the coast shows off it’s access to abundant and delicious seafood also. Shrimp and octopus tacos have become a staple in my diet. The style of preparation is generally lighter with the gentle smokiness of a grill paired perfectly with lightly spiced, creamy sauces and sweet bits of mango or other readily available, tropical touches. All go well with a cold beer and the scent of saltwater in the air.
Heading inland, meat dominates and every region and every vendor has their own spin and specialty. A taco can be made of just about any part of any animal and steeped or coated with just about any combination of toppings. Take your pick of red, green, silky or chunky super spicy salsas, thin and runny guacamole or slices of whole avocados. Spicy pickled vegetables vary from cauliflower, carrot, and onion to jalapenos and serranos. Don’t forget the cilantro and fresh lime to tie it all together. Some prefer corn tortillas and some prefer flour tortilla. Some types are a little more adventurous than others, but there’s something for everybody. The classic tacos carne asada are made with marinated and grilled beef, tacos de cazo are a little wilder for some folks but some of my favorite tacos and full of flavor filled with various braised meats and offal, tacos de cazuela is animal’s head, including meat from the cheek, lips, and brains. The meat is incredibly tender and big on taste.
They’re all perfect. I want pastor tacos- spit roasted pork- topped with pineapple and roasted onion every damn day. I also want Tacos sudados for the rest of my life, to have and to hold and to fold into my mouth forever. I love you, TACOS.