What is a taco? It’s a tortilla, folded or rolled, filled with… anythingIt’s that “anything” what allows their infinite variety: from those prepared for parties to those ones you eat at home any given day, escaping to the kitchen during a commercial break on television and taking a tortilla, adding just salt, rolling it and… that’s it, mouth at work. There is only one rule regarding the tacos: they must be eaten without cutlery, just with your hands. But apart from that, everything is allowed.
There are tacos usually served at night, like the tacos al pastor. They are prepared with pork meat – marinated in vinegar and with a variety of species – placed in a “trompo” (see picture below). Expert taqueros cut slices of the cooked meat and put it on the tortilla, then they throw coriander, onion and pineapple and a spicy sauce on top. Usually, people eat tacos al pastor with friends after a concert or after the disco and maybe that’s why many foreigners visitors associate the tacos al pastor with the party time in Mexico.
The secret of any taqueria is its spicy sauces. Served at the table are three or five sauces with different colors and flavors, but all spicy. The better the sauces, the greater the tacos.
There are other tacos served at lunch (in Mexico, at 2 or 3 pm) such as tacos de
guisados, which are a simplified version of a real meal. Tacos de guisados are often served on places in the street where you can eat standing up and move on. While the logistics are easier than in a restaurant, the filling of those tacos can be anything you would eat on a plate and sitting at the table. It is common to find in those places people who work in banks or offices and are making a quickly lunch. You know, sauce is enemy number one of ties (because of the stains) so the office workers hide theirs into the shirt or thrown them to their
backs but they are never really safe from the stain-in-the-tie mark.
There are also the tacos most commonly eaten in college (or at least in the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM, where I studied): tacos de canasta. They’re filled with bean, potato or marinated meat, they’re prepared in hundreds and placed in huge baskets.
Because they are all stacked, they keep warm for a long time. Vendors place the basket on a bicycle and go through the whole university. These tacos are cheap and very tasty, so they’re really popular among students. I still love them.