Living Out Loud

Tacos - A Love Affair


As a kid growing up in North Carolina in the 70's, my Mom's ventures into foreign cuisine were relegated to Chung King Chinese dinners, Chef Boyardee Pizza kits and my all-time favorite, Old El Paso Tacos, made with grated American cheddar, shredded iceberg lettuce and grocery store tomatoes. Those were a huge treat and I didn't mind being the one picked to grate the huge block of cheese from the Piggly Wiggly. We didn't have the ubiquitous taquerias that now populate the south. We didn't even have Taco Bell.

These days, given a chance to pick a meal away from home, I'm just about always going to opt for tacos. There are enough Mexican restaurants to provide plenty of variety. Wonder Woman has celiacs, so tacos on corn tortillas work just fine for her too. Through the years I've learned to appreciate the marinated pork that go into tacos el pastor (often served with pineapple). I enjoy birria, made from goat at my favorite taco place, Taqueria Jalapeño in Hope Mills, NC. I've tried tacos made from beef tongue (lengua) which are not my thing.  Lately I've been into Quesabirria tacos, made from beef and wonderfully melted oaxaca cheese.

I'm so bad that when I go to the wonderful Guatemala centro American Restaurant, right down the street from my house, which offers food from a variety of Latin American countries, I still get tacos. not because I'm scared of dishes from El Salvador or Honduras, but just because that combo of pork, cilantro and chopped white onions beckon to me like no other food. The lady that owns the place sees me, looks me dead in the eye and asks, "The regular?". I sheepishly nod and then order a side of plantains just so I don't come across as a total hick.

I have a t-shirt that says "Make tacos.Not War". People email me taco memes and post them on my Facebook page. A search of my photos library using the word "taco" returns 151 hits.  I don't have that many pictures of my brothers. I most assuredly want tacos served at my wake and i wished I lived in a place like Austin where you can get them for breakfast, which I do when I visit my son who lives there.

Everyone has a favorite food. Right?