There are a few things you don’t realize you’re giving up when you leave LA. You know you’ll miss the weather, the sunny winter days spent sun bathing on the beach, the fact that every band always has a tour stop in your town, and the unlimited Girls Night Out options.
But no one tells you you’re giving up tacos as you know them. And Horchata, for that matter. The brilliance of living in a town so chocked full of authentic Mexican food is really manifested in two ways: toppings and tortillas. Whether it’s a taco truck (the real kind), taqueria, or a back yard party thrown by the family of the girl you work with, real tacos come on homemade corn tortillas. No self respecting Mexican grandma would have it any other way (think of asking an Italian grandmother to serve her pasta with Prego). Homemade corn tortillas are a thing of beauty, soft, warm, and so easy to make. Once you start making them from scratch, you’ll have drank the Kool-aid too, there is no going back.
Which brings us to taco toppings: no one outside the USA puts ice berg lettuce and shredded cheese on their tacos. It’s not a hamburger, it’s a taco. If you like them that way, you should do it. It’s a Tex-Mex part of our National culinary identity, but it’s not authentic. In LA, you get onions and cilantro and the option to add a few dashes of hot sauce if you choose.
Crema is a Mexican staple, but not as often used on tacos. It’s more of a mole or enchilada accessory. But in LA we have these surfers who open taco restaurants after surfing their way up the West Coast of South and Central America. They make fish tacos and serve them with a creamy sauce. Which may not be completely authentic, but it’s still very LA.
So, what I’m trying to tell you is that these tacos are equal parts authentic and hypocritical. Which, let’s be honest, that’s pretty LA.
My recipe for beer corn tortillas.