Can you ever actually eat too many tacos? Ha!
This blog may not suitable for vegans and vegetarians 😉
Rocket and Mike say no, never enough, as long as you can fit a siesta between them all;) I may have to agree. The street food in Ensenada and the Valle de la Guadalupe is an never ending buffet of fabulous tacos, fish, al pastor and carne asada as well as birrias from beef to borrego, sheep that is. For those of you familiar with nothing more than the sad excuse of a hard shell taco often offered across the border we have a primer for you: Tacos, most of the time here in Mexico are served on a soft corn tortilla, not flour, you will show your gingo-ness by asking for flour unless you want a quesadilla:) Here we go:
Al Pastor/Adobada: (these are not carnitas, that is something completely different) Al pastor (from Spanish, “shepherd style”) is a taco made with spit-grilled or propane fired pork. Based on the lamb shawarma brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico, al pastor features a flavor palate that combines traditional Middle Eastern spices with those indigenous to central Mexico. Often basted in achiote with a pineapple affixed to the top of a shawarma type vertical grill that lets the juice of the pineapple sweeten the pork. They are often served on small sized tortillas de maiz, which means you can eat even more!
Pescado/Camarón: Fish/Shrimp tacos originated in Baja California, where they consist of deep fried fish/ and or shrimp, cabbage, pico de gallo (cut up tomato, onion, serrano peppers, lime and cilantro) and a sour cream or citrus/mayonnaise sauce, all placed on top of a corn or flour tortilla with an assortment of other salsas. You can sometimes get grilled fish if you are watching your fat intake, they are pricier as you get more fish, less fried coating, and of course deep fried shrimp. Try them with the pickled onions at Lupita’s in Maneadero! And her caldos, or soups of seafood and shrimp are to die for, actually, everything they make…try it!
Carne Asada: In Spanish, carne literally means “flesh/meat/beef” and asada means “grilled meat.” Best grilled on wood/carbon but can be done on a large grill, sometimes a griddle but then it steams more than roasts. You will be asked “con todo?” this means the meat, salsa (sometimes quite hot), beans and guacamole or you can customize what you want:) Often served with radishes and lots of lime slices:)
Birria: is a dish from the state of Jalisco I have read…you can correct me if I am wrong:) The dish is a spicy stew, traditionally made from goat meat or lamb, but most often in Baja from beef. Birrias de borrego-is lamb-birria de cabra is goat. It is often much softer, and very juicy. You can get a cup of the broth on the side, so delicious:)
and this is just the start. At many taco stands they specialize in one or two types of tacos, at many-all kinds! This is one of our “go-to” places in Chapultepec-the best “adobada” also known as “al pastor”, They have a large variety of things Mike has tried, that I have not;)
Tortas are sandwiches of carne asada or al pastor, or mixto, the two, on puffy white buns (that are usually grilled) or bolillos in the supermarket. Quesataco, means-taco with cheese, same for the tortas-Quesotorta-quesadillas, tortillas with cheese- Cabeza: (lit. ‘head’) is the meat from a roasted head of an animal, usually a cow here in Baja. Typically, the whole head is placed on a steamer or grill, and customers may ask for particular parts of the body meats they favor such as Cachete, which is cheek. Buche: refers to the stomach of the pig. When stewed for several hours with a variety of spices and chilies, the meat breaks down to a tender, somewhat chewy texture -and Tripa: are the small intestines of farm animals that have been cleaned, boiled and grilled. Chicharón are fried pork rinds that are soft, not crispy, after being simmered in salsa verde for a spicy, somewhat chewy (but in a good way) combination. Sesos: are beef or calf brains (I do draw the line at brains). There is something for everyone! So far no liver tacos but I am sure they exist somewhere, all washed down with a fine glass of chianti;) In downtown Ensenada you can get grilled or fried grasshoppers, called chapulines. They are toasted on a comal (broad flat cast iron frying pan) with garlic, lime juice, chili and salt lending a sour-spicy-salty taste to the finished product. We have only touched the tip of the taco iceberg. There are actually many vegetarian and vegan tacos, just that I have not got around to trying everything when al pastor and asada, are just so damn good! Bad me;)
And don’t forget to skip the sodas and wash down anything with an agua fresca-agua de jamaica which translates as “hibiscus water”is a delicious bright red/purple drink made by steeping hibiscus flowers, called flor de jamaica to produce a concentrate which you dilute with water and sweeten with sugar. Extremely high in vitamin C!
My favourite is “horchata”(pronounced or-CHAH-tah) is a drink made with rice and is flavored with cinnamon and sweetened with sugar. The rice, sometimes along with some nuts or seeds, is ground and mixed with water to make a milky looking drink. It tastes like a milkshake! YUM!
So many tacos…so little room in my stomach! Time for a brisk walk around the estuary so we can start again tomorrow;) Saludos amigos! Provecho! Enjoy! Stay tuned for the best breakfasts, Mexican wood fired pizza, pig on a spit, seafood galore and some fine dining thrown in for good measure!