In the Mexican Kitchen

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It all started, as it often does, with a big chunk of pork.

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Pork shoulder, that is — my favorite cut. It was on sale at the grocery store, so I bought it, thinking I might prepare something Mexican. Maybe carnitas, maybe chile verde, maybe cochinita pibil. More

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Tacotopia, Episode #4: Air-Dried Pork?

People — gringos, primarily — are often shocked when they order a taco in Mexico for the first time, and are presented with a tiny little affair with almost nothing on it.

“But where’s the cheese?” they say, their Baja Fresh faces in a glum state of disbelief, “Where’s the lettuce and the tomato and the sour cream and the six choices of salsa?”

Dried pork tacos

Dried pork tacos

It’s a similar conundrum to pastas in Italy, where oftentimes the best offerings are simple affairs (the famed cacio e pepe, for example) composed of just a few of the finest ingredients. I remember the first time I ordered a cheese sandwich as a boy in Paris, and was dumbfounded at the chunk of baguette that arrived with nothing more than a smear of camembert. And it was a revelation. More

The Best Taco in Jalisco

When I go to Puerto Vallarta on the Mexican state of Jalisco’s Pacific shore, I am driven by a memory.

Many years ago, visiting the area with my pal Gary, I had what may have been the best taco of my life.

Al pastor at Pepe's Tacos, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Al pastor at Pepe’s Tacos, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

“I’m not eating there,” Gary said as I made a bee-line for the grimy little sidewalk stand, feeding more flies than patrons, bottles of crema baking in the sun. I smelled fish tacos.

“Dos, por favor,” I told the leathery woman dropping fillets into oil. More

Tacotopia, Episode #1: Chile Verde

*Tacotopia: a blissful place or state, where peace and love reign, tequila flows like rivers and tacos are plentiful, varied and delicious.

“You made a taco in Tahoe,” my pal Bob rolled poetically off his tongue, “Insane — what was that!?”

“I don’t remember,” I replied.

Upon further prodding and reflection, I did recall frying cheese and shrimp, recreating one of my most popular tacos thus far.

Bob was expressing his enthusiasm for my Year of the Taco idea — he was all behind it. (What’s not to be behind? Especially if you anticipate being one of the test subjects in this culinary experiment.)

Alex Tehrani digs in

Alex Tehrani digs in

“In Mexico,” I said to my pal Don, with whom I would be traveling to Jalisco in a couple months, “It’s going to be all about the taco. We are going to eat as many tacos as we can get ahold of. And tequila.” More

Year of the Taco

In the Chinese zodiac, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey.

In our house, I’m pretty sure it’s shaping up to be the Year of the Taco.

Taco al pastor, The Taco Stand, La Jolla

Taco al pastor, The Taco Stand, La Jolla

I made many a taco in 2015. But I believe that was just a lead-up to what will be the taco year to end all taco years.

Because over the past 12 months, I’ve gotten good at tacos — really good. Beyond the standard gringo tacos, Baja fish tacos, carne asada and pork al pastor, I’ve branched out into dried beef machaca tacos,  birria goat tacos, fried cheese and shrimp tacoschicharrones and tomatillo tacos, crab tacos and dry-aged rib-eye steak tacos. More

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