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

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Cinco de Skinny Girls y Mayo

My friends and family (and probably quite a few of my blog readers) know that when it comes to food, I’m a theme-and-holiday geek. Oftentimes as a holiday approaches, various people will reach out to me. “So,” they’ll say, “What are you guys up to for St. Patrick’s Day?” They know full well what we’re up to, and are angling for an invitation.

The stuff Cinco de Mayo dreams are made of.

The stuff Cinco de Mayo dreams are made of.

One of my favorite “reason-to-cook-and-drink-ethnic” holidays is upon us — Cinco de Mayo. Much like St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a holiday that’s more popular with Yankees than it is back in the home country. It’s the day everyone is Mexican! Also like St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a convenient excuse for those who would drink in excess to head for their favorite watering hole. For us, Cinco de Mayo — again, like St. Patrick’s Day — is an opportunity to celebrate the food and drink of the holiday’s culture. If we drink too much, it’s not on purpose. More

Slow Food, Sonora Style

Unless you’re a drug runner, things in Mexico generally move pretty slowly. I remember watching an entire construction crew working on a resort collapse in the heat and humidity of the late morning in Nayarit, and nap on site until the mid afternoon.

Machaca, mid-mash

Machaca, mid-mash

A lot of the foods of Mexico are slow, too. In the Yucatan, for example, they wrap pigs in banana leaves and bury them in the ground to cook for a day. Nobody’s setting timers or watching the clock. And in the cowboy cattle country of the desert north, they hang strips of beef in the sun to dry out in the blazing sun. Up there, they call it machaca. More