Tacotopia, Episode #2: The Taco Takes Texas

Though Texas is, like California, a border state, I don’t really associate it with tacos. Sizzlin’ pans of fajita chicken with bell peppers, yes — but not so much the humble and extraordinary taco.

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Last April, I made a Texas smoked brisket for my daughter Willa’s ninth birthday party. No, she did not ask for a brisket — I just thought it was a good idea. What little girl doesn’t dream of smoked brisket for her birthday?

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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

Mexico’s Answer to Parmesan

My friend, Saul, who grew up one of nearly a dozen children without electricity or running water on a farm some 45 minutes from the nearest village in Mexico, once brought me back from a visit with his parents a chunk of cheese his mother had made. Of course it was raw, of course it was artisanal — not in the self-congratulatory way of the contemporary foodie, but in the “what other way is there?” way of the peasant farmer.

"Mr. Chicharron, we're ready for your close up."

“Mr. Chicharron, we’re ready for your close up.”

Not only was it a thoughtful and generous gift — it was delicious, with a grassy freshness pairing with a slightly tart complexity reminiscent of bufala mozzarella, a characteristic more often more evident in raw cheeses. More

The Dead

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” —James Joyce, “The Dead”

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As I’ve confessed to in the past, I like holidays — particularly other people’s holidays. Our neighbors to the south, Mexico, for example.

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