jueves, 10 de enero de 2013

The Messy Business of Tacos

Jeffrey M. Pilcher has given us a great history on the humble taco in his article “The Messy Business of Tacos,” published in Guernica Magazine of the Arts.

And the subhead of his piece says it all:  “Unwrapping the history of Mexico's real national snack uncovers classism, dynamite, and shifting definitions of culture.”

The article itself was excerpted from his book, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food.   Pilcher teaches history at the University of Minnesota and is a specialist on food.

He is also the author of Food in World History and The Sausage Rebellion: Public Health, Private Enterprise, and Meat in Mexico City, 1890-1917.

Image from Flickr via Jeremy Brooks

Read Pilcher's article here.

Meanwhile, I have my own relationship with tacos.  

While we were on a journalism assignment in Mexico, my dear friend Dutch the Shooter was astonished that, on the way to get a couple of tacos” at Tacos El Paso, I stopped to eat two tacos at Taqueria Casera.  More amazing to him was that, on the way back from those two tacos we'd set out to get, I stopped to eat a couple more at an open cart on a street corner.  I was quite clear in explaining the situation:  “Listen Dutch, you got to understand that my metabolism runs so hot that I need a couple of tacos to tide me over til I can get a couple of tacos.”  

“I think Im going to call you ‘Taco Jones– because, brother, you got a jones for tacos.

That was on our first day in town.  For the rest of the trip, I heard Bob Marley’s ganja anthem melody with the words, “I eat two tacos in the morning, I eat two tacos at night, I eat two tacos in the afternoon and it makes me feel alright.  I eat two tacos before I eat two tacos, and then I eat two more.”

The best tacos in the world (consistently – since almost any taco might be ‘the best in the world’ quando tengo hambre) are served at Mi Tierra on Victory in Burbank (below).

Author’s photo - Rights Reserved

No, no – come to think of the they are found at the Best Tacos in Ensenada on Hillhurst in East Hollywood.   And yes, that is really the name that Joseph chose for his joint.

Or, wait ... Hotel Classico below Rosarito on the coast of Baja has the best tacos in the world too.  Of course, you are bound to find great tacos in any of the thousands of taquerias in Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Mazatlan (where I found the absolute best tacos de atun that I’ve ever had – til Hotel Classico – but can’t remember the name of the place) and elsewhere in Mexico.

In Los, especially in San Fernando Valley you can throw a stone on just about any corner and it will bounce off one great taco joint and hit another one. I’m not too snooty to eat at Sharkeys, where for an extra buck get you the combo of rice & beans, making their fresh fish taco one of the best buys around.  And Henry’s is always a pretty good choice if I’m in the neighborhood.

Taco trucks are a good bet just about anywhere in California – El Sobrante is good territory, as is The International in Oakland.  

In Tai Fao, it would have to start at Pancho Villa’s at 16th & Mission.  And the entire Mission District could be considered ‘taco heaven.’

Photo by Madeleine Ball madprime 

In Marin, nothing is near Joe’s Taco Lounge, though I have a prob with management changing the garnish menu (well, that was eleven years ago – still...) by excluding cilantro mayonnaise. 

And I always stop at Gustine/Santa Nella to have the best tacos on Highway Five for tacos made with hand-patted tortillas.  Antojitos is a short drive west on Henry Miller Road, past the Hotel Mission De Oro’s 9-story bell tower.  Antojitos #2 can be found in the Subway building in the gas station strip at the Westley exit. 

I’ve also found Los Cantaros, right around the corner from the Purple House in Emeryville.

© 2012 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed, but only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

Photos are copyrighted by their owners, use here only to direct readers’ interest to their fine work.

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