I once had a conversation with friends about "passions" in life. We felt bad because we didn't have any! But since then, I've decided I actually DO have two: Eating & Reading. Both of those seem to occupy a great deal of my time. Now add writing. Food & Books, who could go wrong with that?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Taco Tales

I splurged on fish tacos the other day, from the Million-Dollar-Hamburger-Stand which is a couple of miles from my workplace. As I was driving back to work, with fresh lime zest and salsa aromas permeating the car, I starting thinking of the tacos from my 1950's American childhood. Ay yi yi, no estan los mismos!

The tacos of my childhood were fairly simple: hamburger meat (now referred to as lean ground beef) fried up with an envelope of taco seasoning, grated sharp cheddar (preferably bright orange), ketchup (yes, seriously), and maybe some shredded iceberg lettuce - stuffed into brittle taco shells which tended to shatter upon first bite, imbedding sharp edges into soft gums and palate. Taco nights were popular though. For my mother, because it was something all 6 kids would actually eat with a minimum of whining and complaining. For the kids, because tacos were messy, noisy, filling, and a delicious change from dry meatloaf or, God Forbid, liver and onions - which people actually served to children in the 1950's. That might explain Baby Boomers penchant for recreational drugs and therapists. Not necessarily in that order.

However now, as a result of American travelers and Mexican immigrants, I can get a wide variety of tacos from roadside trucks, taquerias, sit-down restaurants, or hamburger stands. A beef taco now means braised and shredded beef, not ground, served on a hot, soft tortillas with a choice of salsas. The fish tacos which inspired this blog post were composed of fresh corn torillas, seasoned and grilled mahi mahi, thinly sliced green cabbage, picante salsa, a squeeze of lime juice, and all drizzled with a cilantro-sour cream sauce. Muy, muy sabrosa! And I'm quite sure I paid more for those two tacos than my mother did for her ingredient list for tacos which fed 2 adults and 6 children. Oh well, it' s not like I eat them every day - who could afford that?!

Postscript: I was sitting in In-n-Out Burger last weekend thinking about tacos and burgers. Although the tacos I can get now are a vast improvement over the 1950's, I cannot say the same for hamburgers. The burgers of my childhood were made at home, from meat, not fillers. And the fries were actual potatoes, not potato meal or chemicals made to look like a potato. If you ate a burger and fries in the 1950's or 60's, you felt full for the rest of the day, not the rest of the hour. The stuff now may be fast, but it's not always food by my standards. Nuff said.

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