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Why We Love Tacos

A love letter to celebrate the greatest taco contest of all time ever, period


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Note: This post was written because we at San Diego Magazine have partnered with Puesto for the ultimate reader-submitted taco recipe. So it’s an ad of sorts. An ad for a local taco joint I really enjoy. And I like this little ad. It’s a love story. A taco love story. But you can stop reading now if this will violate your art-commerce sensibilities. There’s a link at the bottom for you to enter your own taco recipe and win stuff.

Tacos are messy. Some of us prefer messy food. We are a proud, embarrassing people. We need tactile connection to our eatings. Please don’t ask us how long our mothers breast-fed us. Messy food eaters are the philanthropists who volunteer to apply sunscreen to your back, never mind the rain. And we love the hell out of tacos.

Tacos don’t care if you own bitcoins, or just bits of coins. You drove here in a Tesla. I drove here behind a Tesla. We are all the same in the eyes of the taco.

Hand-held food is just better. Sous vide chicken on a plate is refined. But fried chicken in your hand is ****ing awesome. If they ever ask on a job interview if you’re refined or ****ing awesome, answer ****ing awesome. You won’t get the job, but you’ll be awesome—just like tacos.

There are fewer and fewer things we can hold with our hands in this life. No matter how much you want to, you cannot hold that inspirational quote from Facebook in your palms, press it to your heart, and sigh. You can’t wring that Pinterest dream board between your fingers until it releases all its decor secrets. Digital currency is destroying our ability to roll around on a hotel bed in our first million. iHugs will be a thing. A taco in the hand is worth two on the Instagram.

You drove here in a Tesla. I drove here behind a Tesla. We are all the same in the eyes of the taco.

Forks were invented by people who iron their t-shirts. People who iron their t-shirts think Bon Jovi invented punk rock (punk rock was invented by Hot Topic). Social scientists argue one of the reasons we’re depressed is because we’re too removed from our food. Most of us no longer shoot wild boars with bows and arrows. We go into a giant, well-lit box and buy food in boxes. Far as most of us know, food is grown and raised on Yelp. And you know what the fork is? It’s another six inches of separation between you and your dinner. So, as I'm sure you've realized by now, eating tacos is a spiritual quest to reconnect with the land.

You know what’s easy to mess up? IKEA furniture. Coq au vin is, too. It’s almost impossible to make a bad taco. If you manage to make a bad taco, it’s OK. It just means a man is coming to your house. Do not anger this man, and let him take you away forever. The rest of us will load cheese, hot sauce, onions, lettuce, and peppers onto your awful tacos and eat them while you go away.

Hard-shell tacos are food, but they are also a game. As children, we were told not to play with our food. So playing with food is a fun way to secretly flip the bird to our parents for buying us that generic-brand bicycle and for voting incorrectly. “I shouldn’t play with my food because it’s sacred, mom? So is a Schwinn.” Hard-shell tacos are mouth Jenga. Players try and take a bite without the whole thing falling apart. This is tough, because tacos are a self-destructive food. Like Samsung phones, they are designed to explode. And if your taco explodes, guess what? That broken mess on your plate is now nachos. So there are no losers in taco’s game.

Tacos get their own day. Tapenade Tuesdays would be poorly attended. I’m not going to say tacos are life, because that would be a little extra. But tacos are better than life.

The first taco many of us ate, even here in San Diego (Mexico North), was at Taco Bell. I have nothing against Mr. Bell. Every good cuisine needs a gateway drug. Taco Bell is Mexican food in the same way that a couch is a motor vehicle. It’s not. You can jump on a couch and make engine noises with your mouth, but it’s not going to get you to Bakersfield. And you can say "gracias" to the man at the Taco Bell window, because he knows that Spanish word. But he does not know other Spanish words. But Taco Bell opened many of us to the idea of tacos, and there are better tacos. You should search them out for your happiness.

In fact…

(Here comes the kinda-sorta-ad part.)

You should enter our contest with Puesto. Submit your best recipe for the glorious taco. If you win, you’ll get stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Here’s the link to the explainer.

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Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

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