Join Me for a Taco?

by Emma Dantoni / Feb 20, 2013 /

Join Me for a Taco?

 

Birria Taco

Birria Taco

 

 

American Tacos v. Mexican Tacos

 

If the first things that come to mind when someone says “taco” are sour cream, tasteless lettuce, and a hard shell, then you’re thinking of a distinctly American taco. American tacos are so different than Mexican tacos; they’re not even really the same thing. For one thing, Mexican tacos are made with soft, cooked-in-meat-drippings tortillas, not hard shells. Second, sour cream is out of the question (see more about taco toppings later). Third, in Mexico, you don’t get a little bit of some dry, shredded pork or beef. You get dripping, slow-cooked meat piled high on your taco.

 

 

How to Get a Taco

 

1.    Walk about five minutes to the nearest taco stand.

2.    Order your taco in broken Spanish. (“Un –no– una birria, por –wait– para mi, y dos chorizo para mi mama, y dos –no– tres, err, puerco… por favor. Gracias.” This is sample of my Spanish about a month ago. Fortunately, it has improved since then.)

3.    Get yourself a Sprite (optional), and sit down at one of the rickety red tables bearing the Coca-Cola logo.

4.    Wait for about three minutes, while staring, transfixed, at the woman slicing up cow eyeballs (ojos).

5.    Go up to the counter to get your tacos, and choose your favorite toppings from the sunken containers set into the counter.

6.    Sit back down and enjoy your taco.

7.    When you’re thoroughly full, bring your plate back up to the counter and ask how much. (“Quanto es?”) Hand her the change, say “hasta luego,” and leave.

 

 

What’s in a Taco?

 

Well, first off, there are about ten different types of meat to choose from. You can have a taco with any of the following: Pork, beef, chicken, birria (stew), chorizo, lips, intestines, face, eyes, head, fish, and shrimp.

Once you’ve chosen your meat, you can choose your toppings. Taco stands usually have: Beans, limes, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and at least five different types of sauces, ranging from mild to “muy picante!”

 

 

Tour of a Typical Taco Stand

 

Taco stands have a square grill set in the middle of the counter. It has a half dome in the center (For cooking the tacos out of the grease; and separating the meats.) and is always kept sizzling hot. The rest of the counter is taken up with dishes full of toppings, and chopping blocks. There is an icebox off to the side, for soft drinks. The gravel beneath is so littered with bottle caps that it looks red.

There are also huge beehive-shaped containers full of Mexican agua fresca (Horchata, Jamaica, Agua Limon, etc). The only thing protecting the diners from the elements is a tarp. Very few stands have any kind of wall. The rickety tables rest on dusty gravel.

 

A typical taco stand (This is “The Slow Lady”)

A typical taco stand (This is “The Slow Lady”)

 

 

Some of Our Usual Taco Stands

 

“THE LADY ON THE SQUARE” –  The lady on the square is muy simpatico (very nice). She is starting to remember us, and how we like our tacos. She has the best selection of toppings and the best chorizo.

“THE FAST LADY” – The fast lady has good quality meat. Like you’ve probably guessed, she is very fast, and is the best for when you’re in a rush. Her topping selection is average, and she lets me take her picture.

“THE SLOW LADY” – The slow lady has very good pork. (It’s the seasoning that makes it so good.) She’s slightly stingy with the toppings. You have to ask for your lime, and her sauce containers are often empty.

“TACOS EL COMAPDRE” – Tacos el Compadre does not have very good tacos. They are one of the only stands with walls.

“THE TACOS BY THE PIZZERIA” – Very good range of meat. The fellows are very talkative.

 

Well, gotta go. Hoping that, if you’re not here already, you can come on down to Mexico and taste some of these amazing tacos! Bye for now!

 

 

 

Emma D'Antoni is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Emma D'Antoni