Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Vicente Fox Was Right, We Love Tacos

Vicente Fox got a little heat in the US a while back for stating that Mexicans love their tacos and their families. He's right. I consider myself an expert authority on taco consumption. In the family and Mexican part, I only have eyewitness accounts of my own from observing my Mexican family.

In the Rio Grande Valley, you will see restaurants such as El Zarape, Taqueria La Mexicana, El Pato, and, yes, even Taco Bell. There is also the Laredo Taco Company, which is in most of the local Circle K convenience stores, in addition El Tigre and Aziz convenience stores. All of these places sell tacos. Even Texas' greatest restaurant, Whataburger, sells breakfast tacos. You would think, why are there so many places to get tacos if you are a bunch of Mexicans in the Rio Grande Valley and can make your own?

The problem is that there are many variations in tacos. If you are not from this area, you may think that tacos are spicy ground meat in a tortilla shell with salad and cheese sprinkled on top. Tacos are much more than that. Tacos, my friend, are a concept. A taco is, essentially, food wrapped in a tortilla. You can choose between corn or flour tortillas for your tacos. The filling can be anything. I repeat ANYTHING.

Breakfast Tacos
In general, breakfast tacos have scrambled eggs in them. Of course, all general statements are incorrect, except for this one. The breakfast tacos that have egg can have mixtures of egg, beans, cheese, chorizo, potatos, chile, bacon, sausage, machacado, and other breafast goods. Two breakfast tacos that fall outside of this realm are barbacoa (one of the greasiest and delicious meets around) and chicharron (pork rinds) with chile. There is no hard rule that states that breakfast tacos must be made with these things. Normally, if you have time to sit down for breakfast, these things would be on a plate and eaten with a fork or with a tortilla. If you are on the go, these breakfast items are transplanted from plate to tortilla to make a taco. Breakfast tacos are great because you can eat on the go. A well made taco only requires one hand to operate whilst you drive or ambulate around.

Lunch Tacos
Lunch tacos are also not a set standard. For all intents, lunch tacos consist of anything you can slap on a tortilla. You will commonly see tacos made from fajita, chicken fajita, carne asada, picadillo, barbacoa, beans, rice, bistec (chopped steak), trompo, and so many other meat preparations. Generally, lunch tacos have a meat in them. Common toppings are grilled onions and bell peppers, avocado, salsa, and pico de gallo. Mmmm, delicious.

Dinner Tacos
Dinner tacos are usually the textbook shell, meat, salad and cheese variety. You make those when you have time to fool around with frying the tortillas and stuff them. For most Mexicans, however, dinner tacos happen when you miss dinner. You simply heat up a couple tortillas and pile on the leftovers. You may also have tacos if you are invited to a cookout or barbecue. It is common to have guys stand around the fire chatting with a taco in one hand and a beer in the other.

Faux Pas-False Step-Falso Paso
You absolutely never, ever have or suggest a vegetarian taco. Not only is this as undefined as division by zero, it's downright insulting to Mexican sensibilities. That's saying a lot as Mexicans are not known for sensitivity. If you want a salad, ask for a salad. A taco without some protein base is not done. If your host invites you to share a taco, you will be well fed and you will enjoy it. The phrase, "ven, hechate un taco" is only said to liked guests. You can say, "perhaps another day" or "I'll just have one". Otherwise, you may never be invited back. Especially if you ask for a vegetarian taco. It's simply not done.

Tacos are a big part of life in the Rio Grande Valley where a majority of residents are of Mexican descent. Yes, we do love our tacos. They are fast, easy, portable, and have so many different combinations that you'll never be bored with the same thing. We love our families too. Spouses may leave and children will leave the home. Tacos are forever.

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