Tacos of many and any thing
Very few things identify the Mexican popular gastronomy as tacos. The ever-popular dish consists on a folded tortilla filled with… whatever ingredient comes to your mind. From fancy lobster to humble salt, any ingredient can be a part of the taco.
Tacos are descendants of the “quauhtaqualli” native from the Mexican central highlands. Obviously, Spaniards could not pronounce the name and called them taquallis. From this last expression is that tacos took their present name. Today, they have a plethora of last names:
- de cabeza, prepared with each and every part of the pork’s head: brains, cheek, tongue, lips and else
- de carnitas, Jalisco’s and Michoacan’s are unsurpassed
- dorados, deep-fried to make tortilla hard
- de barbacoa, with meat cooked inside maguey leaves
- al pastor, with Lebanese-style marinated pork
- de pescado, Baja’s fish are the best ones
- de canasta, with hot broths sweating inside the basket
Bernal Díaz del Castillo is responsible for the first recording of a taquiza chronicled in his “The Truthful History of the Conquest of New Spain.” The original taco Hernán Cortés’ troops feasted with was surely of xoloscuintle and guajolote, the native name of turkey. The garnishes were the vegetables then available in the New World.
How to eat tacos?
One thing is sure: Cortés’ mercenaries didn’t know back then the proper technique to eat tacos neatly. Here it is: thumb, index and middle fingers hold the tortilla by the upper part to keep it from unfolding. The ring and pinky fingers hold it from beneath to avoid ripping and dropping. If we eat while standing, the body’s tilting ahead is of great importance to watch for drippings.
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You can achieve points for style, though. All you have to do is eating with the pinky pointing towards the sky! You will be the envy of your fellow taco gulpers, as you will be showing off the many pounds of tacos you have consumed.
Taco has walked many roads since the days of Aztec’s feasts. It has enriched itself in every visited place and with every ingredient it has come to acquaint. No component can escape the charm of a perfectly-round, smoking tortilla waiting to be filled. Its flavors can reach as high as duck, lobster, and fine cuts as rib-eye or New York, or even vegetarian tacos!
In the coming days we will be talking about the most popular tacos in Puerto Vallarta, stay tuned!