Thursday, May 29, 2008

Does This Count as a Taco? You Be The Judge.

So as you know, I was in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico a few weekends ago for a wedding. My previous trips to Mexico took me to Cancun (during spring break in college), Cozumel and Chichen Itza (both on stops during cruises).

I wasn't sure what to expect in Playa Del Carmen, but I'm happy to report that I really liked it. It was a very quaint town that had one major street where most of the tourists hung out--5th Avenue--but it wasn't overtly touristy. There were tons of great restaurants, boutique shops and small hotels and it was all very welcoming.

We stayed at the Porto Playa condominiums, which I would highly recommend. They were only one block from the beach and right next to 5th Avenue, and the units were built by local artists using cool stones for the walls and floors. The picture to the right is the interior of the complex... it's like a jungle!

And of course, how could a wedding on the beach not be beautiful? The weather was perfect, the bride was absolutely stunning, and the scenery couldn't get much better. Here is a picture of the wedding site pre-ceremony, and then of the awesome band who played. They liked getting their picture taken...



When not enjoying wedding-related festivities, we explored the town and took in LOTS of Mexican cuisine. We even had guacamole made right at our table one night:


The real drama on the trip, however, occurred when the group I was with debated what qualifies as a "taco." See, I've never had a taco. You know when you have to tell an "interesting fact" about yourself in work groups or for break-the-ice games sometimes? Well, usually I say "Madonna went to my high school." But if I'm with people that already know that little tidbit, then I say "I've never had a taco."

This truly, truly seems to astonish people. (I haven't had salsa, coffee, a burrito, or several vegetables ever, either, while we're at it.) But anyway, this time while in Mexico, my husband was determined that I finally have the quintessential Mexican staple.

So I ORDERED something that was called a taco, but I really don't think it counts. It was literally just a small flour tortilla with chunks of chicken on it (and I smeared some guacamole on it). That's it! No lettuce, tomatoes, or any kind of sauce. When I think of a taco, I think of it at least with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes (which I also don't eat) covering some sort of meat in a shell. So I maintain that I still haven't eaten a real taco.

What is your take? Here is a picture of the momentous occasion (or of me just eating a tortilla with chicken on it... you be the judge!).


- e

(P.S. I am heading out on another trip, so I will be unable to post again until Monday.)

14 comments:

Craig said...

First of all: Yeah, I'm pretty sure you can call that a taco. It may not meet the Yum! Foods definition of taco, but it's close enough.

Second: I am definitely in the "can't belive you've never had a taco camp. Same goes for burrito. If you've had lots of Mexican cuisine, surely you must have had some sort of salsa at some point. I mean, it just means "sauce," so even if you haven't had something that looks like Pace there was probably something, right? Right? Oh, my mind is so blown by this whole concept. (To be fair, living in the southwestern US for ten years probably has altered my idea of how much Mexican food people are exposed to.)

Actually, now that I think about it, you live in Chicago (or somewhere close by), right? You have one of the best Mexican restaurants I've ever eaten at right there in town (of course, there is plenty to eat that wouldn't be tacos or burritos so that might not eliminate the appalling gaps in your gastronomic experience). Every time I am in Chicago I try to convince everyone that we should go to Frontera/Topolobampo. Unfortunately, this doesn't usually work out so I have to hope for the next time. However, this time I have already made reservations for when I am there next week, so my family/friends are all going whether they want to or not. (I see that I have now strayed a long way from the original point, so I'll stop rambling.) :)

Lockman said...

I'll tell ya what e.....
I am giving a vote to a yes on you have had your first taco....for the simple fact that you had an authentic taco in Mexico...the "taco" in America has become way different than the one in Mexico....basically the lettuce and diced tomatoes and cheese and salsa and sour cream and all that madness is basically Americans way of making it their own. When you goto Mexico there really is only chicken or beef on a tortilla with minimal toppings...I think the toppings have made it what it is in The US...So you actually have had your first taco..but I would still recommend grabbing one in a America because it has a little more flavor to it..
so instead of taco tell everyone no coffee or burritos because you have actually had a real mexican taco....
enjoy your trip!!!I am jealous of your travel planner....

wanders said...

I'm sure I won't be the only one to say you lost your "taco-ginity," and it wasn't even good. The first time is often disappointing, though.

No joke, my wife makes the best tacos in the world. She fries the flour tortillas, and then in addition to all the fixings and salsa, she adds Ranch Dressing. Oh my. You haven't lived until you've added the Ranch Dressing. You can leave the tomatoes off if you wish, but do not omit the Ranch Dressing.

Matt in Dallas said...

If it says 'taco' on the wall behind you, you were in Mexico, had a Tecate and Dos XX, then it qualifies. Tacos aren’t all they are cracked up to be anymore. It’s all so accessible now it’s just what you had - a tortilla and some “stuff”. I think you should cross this off your list of things to do. It’s been done!

And you can get guacamole ‘tableside’ at Chili’s now! That has been waaaaay overdone too.

Daniel said...

That's a taco. Taco Bell has turned the true taco into a shell (pun intended) of its true self.

I'm from Dallas, and a true Dallas resident knows a good taco when they see one (Urban Taco, Fuel City Taco). It's a corn or flour tortilla with meat, some kind of salsa, and then any other toppings you like. I've seen corn, lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, beans, cheese, queso, peppers, and a miriad of other things.

Sorry mate, you've had a taco (not that it's a bad thing).

dy said...

YES!!! That was a taco! That was, in fact, a REAL taco. The whole lettuce, tomato, cheese thing was a Taco Bell influence.

Congratulations!

KFM said...

Yes. It's a taco. And, it's an authentic taco... I think the taco you are thinking of is more of the Americanized-let's add other stuff and make it complicated- taco. I live in San Diego, and if you go to the real deal, you'll get a small corn tortilla, meat, and maybe cheese... for sure some limes and salsa. :)

Anonymous said...

e,

Let's agree to just call it a Soft Taco. Out here in California - that's basically how I make them (sans the tomatoes as well). Hopefully you added some nice tasty salsa for a little bonus.

Dang - now I'm hungry. Thanks e.

The Other E

Anonymous said...

it counts!

Aunt Sue said...

No...........That is NOT a taco. Now YOU are---SO CRAZE. Real tacos do not have the calories reduced!! I guess I have seen chicken tacos on menus, but that's just to allow people that don't want beef to be able to order something. I've been ordering chicken tacos for awhile now, but only to try and eat a little healthier. The beef ones are in my opinion--the real thing.
Also, you can't do without the lettuce and tomatoes. And, you've never had salsa??????? There is life beyond chicken legs and mashed potatoes!!! :)

P & M said...

I live in Arizona, so it's hard to imagine not eating tacos 2-3 times a week. It's always a strange reality check when others don't share the same 'normal' experiences with you. I hope you eat more tacos because other than sandwiches, they are the perfect food. You should really go to one of Rick Bayless's restaurants in Chicago. I've watched him on PBS and he really makes great Mexican food.

By the way, I really enjoy your blogs.

Dreyesbo said...

As these people have all said, you had a taco. My only difference of them, is that I live in México. Every taco I eat at most only has green salsa (although I've never been a fan of toppings). So, there you go, you've ate your first taco :P Although you should've tried other than chicken, there are tons of meat tacos that you just don't get in the US.

Anonymous said...

oh e, how on earth have you never had tacos, salsa or even coffee??? now that you had youre first exposure to one, you simply must try Dos XX beer battered fish tacos at On the Border, they are absolutely awesome (and I'm not a big fish eater either). As for salsa there are tons of good salsas out there with ingredients like mangos and pineapple even. And coffee....not even a Starbucks frappucino????

Ana Maria said...

...To Lockman: there is no way an American taco has more flavor than a Mexican taco...
Ana Maria