Whenever I come to visit my friend Javier Burillo in Mexico City the first thing we do, regardless of what time of night, is to go for tacos. Admittedly this is a challenge at 5am, but believe me, it is doable. What I get frustrated by having tried the most insanely delicious tacos which you can find in Mexico City is the attitudes which most Americans have to tacos north of the border. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the tacos you get back home, but they are not really tacos as I know and love them.
Down in Mexico City there is an insane range of taco fillings which you can get, depending on your tastes. Regardless of what kind of tacos you do happen to get, there are some particular basics which you have to get right.
The tortilla is a common bone of contention for many and up north we do of course prefer the floor tortilla. For me however the best taco tortilla is made from corn, and they are small and doubled up. This is the only way in which you can enjoy multiple flavors and those tortillas had better be dipped in the meat juice from the vendor who you buy from, it is the only way.
All tacos should have raw diced onion and coriander, there is simply no other topping which can be substituted for either of them. Additionally however you do have some extra options here. For example you may wish to add some pineapple if you have al Pastor equally you can add cucumber and radishes if you are going for mixiotes. At the very heart of all tacos however, is some delicious cilantro and some freshly cut onions.
Whilst I do appreciate that not everyone enjoys a little bit of heat on their tacos, I have always felt that it should be added anyway, because it just adds something so special to the flavors. This is why you should at the very least add a dab of salsa to the tacos, because the flavor is delicious.
The way in which you make that chili salsa palatable is with a great amount of lime juice squirted all over the top of your tacos. It doesn’t matter which taco you are eating, you are going to need that healthy dripping of lime juice to give it freshness, to compliment to the flavor and to give a tasty finish in the mouth after you have swallowed. This is the only way in which you can truly enjoy the very best of the taco.
Ignore anything that you think you know from up north regarding tacos, these are the basic which everyone has to get right when you re south of the border. The next time you get down to Mexico, grab a street taco and then tell me that I am wrong!
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