Taco Tuesday…Every Day

Gregory Luce | Scene4 Magazine

Gregory Luce


Image by T.Tseng, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

I don't get the idea of Taco Tuesday. Except for the alliteration, as a native Texan I can see no reason to limit one's consumption of these delicious mélanges of vegetables, meat, cheese, salsa, and whatever other ingredients that strike one's fancy to one day each week. When any and all types of fillings plus tortillas are readily available just about everywhere in the country, why not make them on Thursday? Or Sunday? And for that matter, why only eat them once a week? In addition to the simplicity and fun of making your own, most major cities and many smaller municipalities now host a variety of taquerias offering both traditional and innovative fillings. If all else fails, there's always chains such as Chipotle and Taco Bell.

I always have tortillas, cheese, lettuce, and salsa or picante sauce on hand, and each week's shopping list includes other taco ingredients such as beef, pork, chicken, even fish, and beans. My method is to heat seasoned pinto or black beans (one can season the beans with any combination of herbs and spices—though garlic is a must—according to taste and desired level of hotness), then add cooked meat or fish if desired. Sprinkle some grated cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese on a tortilla and microwave for 30 seconds, spoon the bean mixture onto the tortilla, and top with shredded lettuce and salsa. Any salsa or picante sauce, mild, medium, or hot, will work. I recommend two Texas brands, Desert Pepper from El Paso and Mrs. Renfro's made in Ft. Worth. I usually make enough for at least two meals.

All this taco talk has led my mind back to my Southwestern childhood and adolescence. Back then, Friday night was our family's customary time to go out for Mexican food. In Dallas, our restaurant of choice was El Fenix, founded and operated by the Martinez family for 100 years and still in business today. My mouth waters thinking about the enchiladas swimming in savory sauce and blanketed by melted cheese. Or tostadas, chimichangas, quesadillas, and the yellow Spanish rice and refried beans alongside each dish. Not to mention the bottomless chips and salsa and the equally boundless stacks of soft corn tortillas that we buttered and dipped in the salsa and used to mop up after finishing the main course. Still hungry? Grab a homemade pecan praline at the register when settling the check. For some reason this New Orleans delicacy was de rigeur in Dallas Tex-Mex restaurants.

In Oklahoma City, where I completed middle school and high school, we would dine at Pancho's Mexican Buffet, located in a strip mall not far from our home. The unassuming exterior opened into an American interpretation of a Mexican cantina. Appearance notwithstanding, the draw of this establishment was the food and the price. We'd pass through the cafeteria line and choose which ever dishes we wanted and take them to our table which was adorned with condiments and a small Mexican flag (about which more in a moment). In addition to the usual enchiladas, tacos, beans, rice, et al., Pancho's offered a dish I've rarely been able to find outside the Southwest, chile relleno, a puff pastry enrobing a mild pepper and covered in salsa. After finishing our first plate, we would raise the flag and a server would come and take orders for seconds (thirds, etc.). The dinner would be concluded with sopapillas, a light deep fried hollow pastry that you poked a hole in and poured in honey.

As much as I love many styles and varieties of cuisine, standard American, local, regional, ethnic and international, nothing else quite satisfies my craving for Tex-Mex.

In the Washington, D.C. area where I now reside, we are blessed with a variety of Central American restaurants and even an occasional authentic Mexican one, but I have yet to find a true Tex-Mex joint in which to consume the dishes mentioned above prepared in the way they are back home. But I'm always looking. And in the meantime I can always cook it at home on Tuesday or any other day.

I hope that my readers have enjoyed this brief culinary tour as much as I did writing it. Maybe it's made you hungry enough to seek out or prepare your own tacos. Just don't get me started on barbecue….

Image by T. Tseng

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Gregory Luce | Scene4 Magazine

Gregory Luce is a Senior Writer and Columnist for Scene4.
He is the author of four books of poetry, has published widely in print and online and is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Retired from National Geographic, he is a volunteer writing tutor/mentor for 826DC, and lives in Arlington, VA. More at: https://dctexpoet.wordpress.com/
For his other columns and articles in Scene4
check the Archives

©2021 Gregory Luce
©2021 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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