Taco Culture

One of the food trends the experts are predicting to surge this year is any sort of hyper-regionalized food, niche and specialty restaurants that focus on a particular culture. Specifically, tacos seem to be taking over, if ITacosnstagram is anything to go by, being able to intersect ingredients from multiple cultures to create some delicious fusion cooking that would appeal to almost everyone. Although the concept of the taco comes from Mexico, the traditional image is vastly different from what Americans and Canadians typically eat –a soft tortilla, never hard, and always made with corn, and rarely, if ever, made with lettuce, cheese, tomato.

The wonderful thing about tacos is that you can put almost anything in them –if you want to stay traditional, you can add fresh vegetables and Pico de Gallo, or if you want to try your hand at fusion cooking you can use sliced pork and pineapple. If meat is your thing, you can cook up some shredded pork in a slow-cooker and wrap it in a warm tortilla with radishes and cilantro, or you can try steak and plantains with some shredded cabbage if you’re feeling a bit adventurous. If shellfish is more your style, combining shrimp with chillies, cumin, oregano, and chilli powder will create a sweet and smoky flavour that will tantalize the taste buds. Something like tilapia will add a fresh, ocean spin on your tacos and pairs well with mild vegetables like cucumbers and any sort of cream-based sauce. Tacos can also make an excellent breakfast food, if that’s more your style. Eggs, bacon or cut up sausages, peppers, tomatoes, spices and some goat cheese all wrapped up in a warm tortilla make an excellent way to start the day.

Of course, tacos are nothing without the sauces. If you want to stick with the traditional, create a homemade Pico de Gallo, also called salsa Fresca, with chopped tomato, onion, coriander, fresh peppers, salt, and lime juice. You can also add things like shrimp or avocado depending on your preference. Another option if you still like the idea ‘authenticity’ but you want to be a little more adventurous, is to make a Mexican mole –pronounced mo-lay –which is a rich chocolate-based sauce with a spicy kick. If you are making anything seafood-based, a homemade Baja sauce –sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, peppers (usually jalapeno), garlic, lime juice, and cilantro –will complement the flavours beautifully.

No matter what your preferences, taco fever seems to be catching. Whether you’ve never really tried them or are looking for a new way to enjoy an old favourite, experimenting in the kitchen with different kinds of tacos might just be a key to spicing up your meals.