Last Friday’s paper had a large article about a book promotion event for The Tacos of Texas, a newly released book by Jarod Neece and Mando Rayo, a former El Pasoan, both of whom now consider themselves taco journalists. The book is the product of 7,000 miles of driving around Texas eating tacos, interviewing local taco eaters and recruiting members of the Texas Taco Council for the promotion and perpetuation of tacos.
The promotion event was free tacos in different styles by four different chefs. There were traditional tacos, Tex-Mex tacos and New Americano Tacos. The gates opened at noon and the lines ran out the gates and up the block at Memorial Park’s special activity area.
I didn’t not choose to wait in long lines for a free taco. Instead, I had tacos and enchiladas at nearby Doña Lupe’s instead. Afterwards, I returned to the park go find the lines still were long. The book buyer line was very short. Go figure – 45 or more minutes or in line in the sun for a taco or five minutes in line and $20 for a book.
I purchased the book, waved goodbye to some friends in who’ve been in line line in the sun and headed home in the air conditioned comfort of my truck.
At home, I kicked back and read the introduction to the book and then skipped ahead to the chapter on El Paso. There are interviews with the owners and chefs at restaurants, taquerias and with local celebrities and just folks who know their way around a taco. Somehow, they failed to interview the Gringo Gourmet for the book
Each of the sections of the book follows this pattern of interviews and offers a list of five “bests” for tacos, based on the interviews. You’ll have to read the book to find out who is on the list!
Folks who read this blog know that there is a category called play with your food. Dishes there start with a basic premise and adapt it into something individual. It evolved from reading Bon Appetit’s Cooking Without a Recipe feature on their e-mail feature series. I use their model and list ingredients and tips on methodology if needed, but don’t create a formal recipe with things like quantities and measures. It becomes a fun adventure for me and no one, so far, has complained or been harmed by my creations.
The book calls tortillas, fillings and salsa the trinity of tacos. It also says a taco can be anything served in a folded-over taco, the exception being taquitos which are rolled and fried tacos sometimes called flats, and what folks in the north and eastern parts of the state call a breakfast taco that looks suspiciously like an egg burrito to me.
The book does have recipes from each of the five “bests” in each locale and a few from the local celebrities. It will be fun to try some from the different regions of the state – even those bastions of Mexican food, Midland-Odessa, Abilene and Dallas. I will give the authors credit for been unbiased-ish in their statewide taco tasting.
I am enjoying the book greatly. It is fun for foodies to read and to be inspired by some new approaches to tacos.
After a night of reading The Tacos of Texas I woke wanting a chile based breakfast. Here’s how the taco exposure affected a couple of breakfast favorites in this house – the Chile Relleno al Flojero (lazy man chile rellenos) and enchilada montages (stacked enchiladas with an egg on top).
Bye the book definition of a taco being a tortilla filled with something, my Relleno al Flojero must really be a cheese stuffed green chile taco. It loses something in the translation, but the flavor is still there.
I usually use three tortillas for my breast enchiladas with egg. But under the taco spell, I decided to fill the tortillas in half with a green chile, cheese, onion and dollop of red chile sauce, then top the taco looking enchilada with more red chile, onion and cheese. I made two and added the requisite fried egg and christened it tacolada montada. I think this breakfast will appear on the the table again soon, perhaps with a side of refried beans that the authors call Mexican mayonnaise.