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Tacos

A taco is a traditional Mexican street food. It consists of a small tortilla topped with filling and garnish before it is folded and eaten, usually finished in two bites. It is easy to eat and there is a lot of room for choices.

For fillings, you can have any, all, or a combination of the following: beef, pork, chicken, seafood, beans, vegetables, and cheese. You can also choose what sauce you want (salsa, guacamole, or sour cream). You can make it spicy by adding jalapeños or putting chili sauce on it.  

According to food historians, indigenous people living in present-day Mexico were already eating tacos before the Spanish explorers arrived. When Hernán Cortés arranged a meal for his captains including Bernal Díaz del Castillo in Coyoacán, they were served tacos.

Tacos Trivia

  • October 4 is National Taco Day in the United States.
  • According to the Guinness World Records, the largest flour taco in the world was made by Cocinex SA de CV in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico on 8 March 2003. The taco weighed 750 kg. It was 10.95 meters long and 86 centimeters wide.
  • A 2019 South Florida Reporter news revealed that Americans Eat More Than 4.5 Billion Tacos A Year.

Tacos Buying Guide

Buy tortillas for your taco the same way you buy produce – enough for what you can consume or eat in the next 2-3 days. While you can refrigerate any leftover ready-to-eat tacos, there is no point in buying a lot. If you are buying hard shell tacos, check to see if the taco shells are still whole. There are many reasons why hard shell tacos on display in stores are crushed or damaged. This is a fragile item subject to the poor handling of store employees and customers as well.

If you are wondering where to buy tacos to satisfy your craving or if you are looking for something in particular (e.g. vegan taco, gluten-free taco, you can search online to see which taco trucks or restaurants near you got positive reviews from customers, or you can ask relatives and friends if they can recommend one. Make sure you don’t have food allergies or any health issues that can be triggered or aggravated should you eat tacos. If you don’t want to risk tacos ruining your clothes and appearing messy while eating, opt for soft tacos rather than hard shell tacos.

Tacos Production & Farming in Texas

Tacos are everywhere in Texas – restaurants, mall kiosks, food carts. Anywhere you look, all you can see is the wide variety of different taco flavors and styles to choose from. Tacos are easy to prepare, easy to eat, and easy to love. Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece, in the book they co-authored entitled The Tacos of Texas, captured the ubiquitous nature of tacos in Texas and the long-standing love affair of the people with this beloved food. “Ever been through Small Town, Texas, and wandered into a local Mexican restaurant and found the most incredible tacos? Have you been to Port Isabel and seen their ginormous tortillas and eaten their ginormous tacos? How about Juarez-style taquerias in El Paso or that crispy beef taco in Dallas?”

A 2017 Marketwatch article pointed out that Humble, Houston tops the list when it comes to restaurant per capita, owing to its “7.3 authentic Mexican restaurants per 10,000 residents.” Houston is third behind Chicago (1) and New York (2) when it comes to cities with the most non-chain Mexican restaurants. 

Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:

Store-bought tortillas used for tacos contain chemicals necessary to make the product appealing and to improve shelf-life, among others. 

  • Flour additives – riboflavin, niacin, biotin, folic acid iron. These enrich the flour to make it nutritious.
  • Oxidants – benzoyl peroxide (bleaching agent) and azodicarbonamide ADA (maturing agent). In many countries, the use of potassium bromate as an oxidant has been banned. The US FDA hasn’t issued any restrictions regarding this matter. 
  • To enhance gluten formation, strength, and stability, chlorine ascorbic acid lipoxygenase is added, while sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) is used as chemical leavening.
  • Leavening acids commonly used in a tortilla are the following: sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS), sodium aluminum phosphate (SALP), sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP), monocalcium phosphate (MCP), and calcium acid pyrophosphate.
  • Store-bought tortillas also use preservatives during production, including anti-mold agents (calcium propionate, sodium propionate, and potassium sorbate), sorbic acid, sodium benzoate, and methyl/propyl parabens.
  • Emulsifiers used in tortilla production include sodium and calcium stearoyl lactylate (SSL) and (CSL), ethoxylated mono and diglycerides (EMG), polysorbates (PS), succinylated monoglycerides (SMG), and diacetyl tartaric acid ester of monoglycerides (DATEM).
  • Tortilla production also includes the use of gums (hydrocolloids) and fibers as dough conditioners, like guar gum, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan, and sodium alginate.

Packaging:

Ready-to-eat tortillas sold in stores come in transparent sealed plastic packaging. Restaurants use plastic, foam, or carton food containers for tacos to-go.

Enjoying Tacos

How tacos are eaten is what differentiates them from other food that closely resembles tacos – you put the fillings on top of the tortilla and fold it, whereas in burritos, you roll the tortilla instead of folding it (that and the fact that tortillas used for burritos are bigger compared to the smaller taco tortillas); like burritos, taquitos are rolled and then fried while chalupas and tostadas require the frying of the tortilla before it is packed with fillings.

Tacos, the popular antojitos or Mexican street food, are eaten by hand. No eating utensils are necessary. It is composed of the tortilla, the filling (which is a combination of meat, vegetables, beans, cheese, seafood), the garnish (salsa, guacamole, or sour cream with finely chopped onions, lettuce, tomatoes, chiles), and a slice of lime.  

Storage:

Home-made tortillas for tacos are safe at room temperature for 12 hours. Put in a container with a lid and refrigerate or else they will get moldy. Keep store-bought tortillas refrigerated.

Make your own taco:

It is easy to make, really yummy, and surprisingly filling. If you’ve been to several different taco stands and is still craving for a particular taco flavor that has eluded you, then maybe it is time to try making your own taco and customizing the filling to your preference. Who knows, maybe this is the start of your very own food business!  

Yield:
12 tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. 90% to 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 12 taco shells – either hard shells or small 6-inch soft flour tortillas will work
  • Optional Taco Toppings: shredded cheese shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, diced red onion, taco sauce, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Method:
Step 1: Put ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  
Step 2: Put in the chili powder, cumin, salt, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper to the meat. Stir to mix well. Cook until the meat is light brown.
Step 3: Add the tomato sauce and water and cook for 7-8 minutes. Once the mixture is thick and water has evaporated, remove from the stove.
Step 4: Warm the taco shells. Follow the directions indicated in the label.
Step 5: Fill the taco shells with tablespoons of taco meat. 
Step 6: Add toppings and garnishing (shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, diced red onion, taco sauce, sour cream, guacamole)

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 571 29%
  • Carbs: 41.1g 14%
  • Sugar: 1.6g
  • Fiber: 3g 12%
  • Protein: 31.8g 64%
  • Fat: 31.6g 49%
  • Saturated Fat: 17.5g 87%

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