Friday, October 24, 2014

The Tacos of Life

We made tacos for dinner tonight. Yes, they were delicious, and yes, we had way too many. 

Anytime I make tacos (or dumplings or burritos or peking duck or anything you have to wrap things in a wrapper), I am reminded of a few rather valuable life lessons, which, at this time, I will of course draw parallels to tacos. 

1: The tortilla

The tortilla is the base of the whole shebang. As in life, there are many ways to build your base. You can get the cookie-cutter (ie, store-bought) versions, which are simple, convenient, and the same as everyone else. They get the job done, they taste alright, and you wouldn't know any better if you hadn't had anything different. Depending on the brand, they might be cheap or expensive, but in the end, you still don't know exactly how that shit was made. They look good at the end (like on a resume, persay) because everyone knows the various brands of tortillas out there. 

The thing with the tortilla, I've found, is that store-bought isn't your only option. You can make your own. I thought it was harder to make before my brother pointed out to me that they're super simple to make. So we made them from scratch. Super simple. We had to make them a few different times to get the taste, texture, and shape that we wanted, but once we got the hang of it, we were in tortilla heaven! 

Mirrored in life, anything you do in life needs a base. You can get the ready-made stuff that most people get, or you can make your own. The thing is, you need to have tasted store-bought and hand-made ones to know what fits your tastebuds better. Can't just do it blindly. 

Also, I should mention that when I moved to California, I learned that hard shell tacos are not a real thing in Mexico. Neither are burritos. They're an American creation based off of Mexican foods. They're the fortune cookie of Mexican foods. But, the thing is, despite their false authenticity, they are still quite popular. So, just because it's not authentic, doesn't mean that a new creation won't succeed. 

2) The meat

True tacos will not use ground meat, but instead, some sort of slow-cooked type of meat. My first time having a real taco, I went back to the restaurant (we had take-out) and asked them if they had mixed up our order. My original notion of a taco was whatever Taco Bell was serving (yay Michigan!). When I opened my little styrofoam container and saw two tiny tortillas (doubled up) with chunks of chicken leg pulled off the bone, and some guacamole with actual avocados, I was quite confused. The guy at the counter confirmed that I ordered 2 tacos, and that's what he gave me, and I drove away with a puzzled look. Until I at them. Holy deliciousness! The meat inside was super tender and flavorful! It didn't taste anything like TBell, and I was quite happy it didn't. The meat was probably the most noticable thing that stayed in my memory. 

Many places will actually use ground meat, though. Also delicious, but not anywhere near as delicious as a well-cooked hunk of meat. I realized that ground meat is more popular because it's cheaper, faster, and more convenient. Ground meat will take only a few minutes to season and cook, and you can have them in pre-weighed bundles of crumbly goodness. Sometimes this is what you need. But then again, you should probably check the source of your ground meat, because it's pretty easy to sneak some other stuff in there. 

Mirrored to life, meat is the food in your life. It's necessary to live (ever had a meatless taco? Yea, it's no longer a taco), and the quality actually matters. Though sometimes, the quick stuff does suffice, nothing beats the good stuff. 

3: The toppings

For veggies, I like my tacos simple: some cabbage or lettuce, tomatoes, onions, maybe some parsley. I like a little bit of everything, but not too much, and not too little. It's easier to put too little on the taco, as the meat gets a bit overpowering (yea, I said it). Rule of thumb for the veggies, though, is that they need to be fresh. The fresher, the better. This also goes for veggies in life. The guac is a whole other story....but for now, I'll say 'yes' to the guac. Finally, cheese....yes, please. But not cheddar. I like my cheeses mild.

I think toppings would be kind of like the random information you learn in life. You should learn a bit about everything. Not too much, not too little. Too much, and it takes up too much of your time that you should be spending on other, more important things. Too little, and you are ignorant and have no clue what is going on around you. It's ok to omit a couple things here and there based on personal preference, but at least entertain the idea for a second (taste it) to make sure you really have no interest in it.

4: Cramming it all in there

After assembling your taco, you're ready to fold it and eat it. This is when you've found out if you've gotten too greedy. Can your tortilla hold all the toppings without it spilling? Can your life hold all that you've decided to cram in there without you freaking out? Or is it too empty? Maybe you could use some more meat...or veggies...or guac. Or is it just perfect? 

5: Taste/Mouth Feel

Time to eat (live)! Are you enjoying this taco creation? Is the meat too salty? Do you need less cheese? Is the tortilla kinda dry? This is when you get to evaluate your taco. And by taco, I mean your life. The great thing about tacos is that they're small (like a week or a month, maybe even a year of your life), and you need multiples of them to fill you up. So just because you fucked up this one taco that you're chewing on right now, doesn't mean you have to make the rest of your tacos the same way. You have the option of playing with #1-4 until you get the perfect #5 for you :) Also, just because your neighbor/friend makes their tacos with tabasco doesn't mean that you have to, too. I'm more of a Sriracha/Gochujang person myself. 

On that note, go make yourself some tacos (or peking duck or empanadas or whatever), and have some fun! :D

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