I love tacos..!! I have ever since I can remember..!! Most of my life, I ate tacos at Mexican restaurants or Taco Bell. I loved the crunchy taco shells. In fact, I preferred them over the soft taco shells. And then there were all the ingredients – lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese. Yummy..!! I loved tacos so much that I started to make them at home so I wouldn’t have to waste any time driving somewhere to get them 🙂
When I went to Mexico, I was excited at the thought of all the traditional Mexican food I was going to eat..!! Including tacos..!! So imagine my surprise when I encountered my first authentic Mexican taco!?! It was nothing like the tacos I had eaten in the states. The tacos in Mexico were always soft shell made from corn or wheat. They were typically filled with ground beef, chicken, steak or pork. However, the garnishes were completely different..! They included salsas, guacamole, cilantro, onions and lettuce. Plus pineapples, if they were tacos al pastor. If there was cheese, it was definitely not shredded cheddar cheese. It was usually a white semi-hard cheese called Queso Oaxaca or Oaxaca Cheese. And there was no sour cream. I was disappointed initially.
However after one year of traveling to and from Mexico and two years living there, I began to appreciate my new tacos. The first reason I loved them was the cost. Tacos were anywhere from 8 to 12 pesos..!! That’s like .62 to .94 cents.! Even the cheapest taco at Taco Bell is still .89 cents.! So for a girl on a budget – it was ridiculously inexpensive..! Secondly, you would get two tacos for the price of one. Every taco comes with two soft shells and enough filling that you can separate them and have two tacos.! Imagine?! But I have to admit the last reason is the real reason I fell in love with tacos from Mexico. They had the most amazing salsas…
And not mild, medium, hot and fire salsas like at Taco Bell. But real salsas..!! I would get so excited when the salsa selection came to the table. If there were only two salsas – the standard red (salsa roja) and green (salsa verde) – I would cry. I needed five salsas; sometimes, even seven. I craved pico de gallo literally translated into rooster’s beak, but also known as fresh salsa. I worshipped guacamole..! I also loved chipotle salsa, habenero salsa, cilantro salsa and mango salsa. How was a girl to choose?! I had to have them all 🙂
And then I had to leave my salsas behind. When I returned to Chicago in February, there were no more salsas like the ones in Mexico. I had to go back to the status quo red and green salsas. On my first visit to Taco Bell, I was shocked at the inauthenticity of my tacos. I no longer thought they were spectacular. I missed my genuine tacos from Mexico. Luckily for me, there is a huge Mexican diaspora in Chicago and there are several authentic Mexican restaurants. So I can still get my taco fix even though I have to drive a little ways. I guess this just means I will have to learn how to make real tacos at home..!! Que bueno…!! Now that I’m thinking about it – all this talk of tacos has made me hungry. I think I’m gonna go find some delicious tacos and of course salsas. Provecho..!!