by Kevin Allman
I grew up eating tacos once a week. My family liked them because they were easy, delicious and inexpensive to boot (buy meat on sale, freeze, cook in Crock-Pot, shred). We never had a box of those premade shells in the house; my mother would pour a half-inch of oil in a pan, quick-fry a fresh corn tortilla, flip it to make a pocket, hit it with some salt and drain it on a towel. I still make tacos that way, except now I'll just use some onions and cilantro rather than the shredded cheese and lettuce-tomato toppings we had when I was a kid ... unless I'm getting tacos from a truck or a roadside stand, and then I take (and happily eat) what I'm given.
All this is prologue to seeing a commercial the other night for these things -- Taco Bell's new "Cantinas Tacos":
It's in response, no doubt, to people's changing tastes and the food cart movement that's particularly popular on the West Coast, where tacos have always been popular. But these things don't look like tacos to me -- they look like the molded plastic sushi and sashimi you see in the windows of some Japanese restaurants, or those periodic attempts by pet-food manufacturers to make dog food look like human food. (Meat bits in the right-hand taco, I'm talking to you.) Also: are those tiny cubes of feta or are they onion dice?
All this taco-talk left me thinking about where the nearest Taco Bell might be. Turns out -- according to the TB website -- there isn't one on the east bank of Orleans Parish, so you really do have to run for the border if you want one of these things:
But why do that? Recipe for the world's easiest tacos under the jump. Jump!
Corn tortillas (little tiny ones if you can find them -- try Ideal Supermarket on S. Broad)
Half-inch of oil in a pan
Meat of your choice, shredded (or fish, or whatever you want)
Onions diced fine
Cilantro chopped fine
Heat oil in shallow skillet. Using tongs, quick-fry tortilla, flip, then bend it into the shape of a taco shell. (This takes seconds.) Hit tortilla with some salt, then put in a bowl lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
Fill with a bit of meat, top with onions/cilantro, squeeze a little lime over the whole thing.
Eat. Repeat. Drink beer.