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Taco Ramblings

Well, it’s not really news, just riffing through the world of tacos looking for virtual kicks, and ideas for more tacos and treats. 

The September 2009 issue of Bon Appétit has two interesting pieces that focus on tacos. The first is a fiesta with Jimmy Shaw of Loteria Grill in Los Angeles and Hollywood. For me, the most significant line in the article reads thusly, “During cocktail hour, guests enjoy a stunning creation of chipotle chiles stuffed with a mixture of shrimp and plantains, and help themselves to appetizers from a barra fría (“cold bar”) that includes chicharrones (crispy fried pig skins that are the potato chips of Mexico), guacamole, pan-fried queso panela (a firm, fresh white cheese), and corn tortillas for turning all of the above into delicious little tacos.” (bolding mine) Then they go on to eat a fantastic dinner. I’m a subscriber, and they’re not paying me for the plug, but check out the recipes on the BA website. I highly recommend the cucumber agua fresca, which incidentally, I was planning on making tomorrow with the surfeit of cukes in my kitchen.

The second is a piece on street food in Portland, Oregon. In it, there is a recipe for vegan tacos from Taqueria Los Gorditos on SE 50th Ave. and Division St. The accompanying photo makes me want to actually go buy some soy chorizo and make these things, with them sauteed onions, and a sprinkle of chopped white onion and cilantro on top.

Back to aguas frescas for a moment. If you’ve never made one, or need to get re-inspired, check out this past Tuesday’s piece in the NY Times by Mark Bittman. There’s also a little video in which he demonstrates how to make watermelon agua fresca. There’s nothing like gobbling some spicy tacos with a big glass of agua fresca, be it jamaica, tamarindo, horchata, watermelon or lo que sea!

If you like them aguas frescas so much that you want some for dessert, then turn them into paletas, or Mexican popsicles. Here’s a video from the Los Angeles Times that shows how to make cucumber-chile paletas. 


Hey, GQ magazine has come out with their top ten food trucks in the country. There’s Kogi BBQ in LA at number 3, followed by the Marination Mobile in Seattle, serving a fusion of Korean/Hawaiian tacos and such, and Border Grill in LA at number 9. 

Grub Street Chicago asks Does It Matter That Rick Bayless Isn’t Mexican? I don’t know. I’m a white guy that just published a cookbook called Tacos: Authentic, Festive & Flavorful. I wouldn’t mind making my living talking about and cooking Mexican food. I’m probably the wrong guy to ask. The Grub Street article stemmed from a blog post by Teresa Puente on Chicanísima entitled Why is Rick Bayless the expert on Mexican cuisine when he isn’t even Mexican? In Sra. Puente’s piece, I was easily sidetracked into a taco daydream as I read the following, “Bayless was recently on one of my favorite shows, Top Chef Masters, and he won his cook off by making tongue tacos with a green sauce. Now I kinda think it was an easy win since the challenge was to use icky pig and cow parts to make street food.  The chefs had to work with tongue, intestines, heart or pig ears.” She lost me there as I drifted into a daydream of icky tacos. Thankfully, she listed what she considers some top restaurants in the Chicago area, such as Xni Pec, specializing in authentic Mayan cuisine, May St. Cafe, a Nuevo Latino gourmet place, and Carnicería Guanajuato, 1436 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. 773-772-5266, where they have good tacos de carnitas, according to Sra. Puente. Next time I’m in Chicago, I’ll go to all three, and I’ll stop by and tell Rick Bayless to stop being so white, or stop being an expert on Mexican food, or something like that.


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