Thursday, July 27, 2006

lettuce? we don’t need no stinking lettuce!

Mark Bittman may know how to cook everything, but he don’t know shit about tacos. In the Wednesday New York Times Dining section, Bittman talks taco, but he no habla comida auténtica.

Let me note that the Times has gone Taco crazy in the last week: first, they sent Cindy Price up the California coast in search of the perfect taco (how did she get so lucky?)—it’s a fairly fun article and comes with a slide show (quick, go check it out, before it disappears into the Times’ greed hole)—and second, we get MB telling us how to make a taco at home.

Well, you can’t get much more “minimalist,” I suppose. I mean, just look at a good taco and you’re half way to making one.

But, it seems, Bittman never took that eye-ballin’ step. Look no further than the illustration above the article. . . or read the text beyond. . . and you will see that Bittman calls for the tortilla and meat to be adorned with lettuce and cheese.

Lettuce and cheese??? Has the Dining Section decided we need to recreate Taco Bell? One need only actually eat a real, good taco to know that the quickest way to fuck it up is to add lettuce and cheese. Maybe Fish Tacos (a Cali-Baja hybrid anyway) get some cabbage and crema, but no self-respecting taco-holic would be seen putting lettuce on carnitas or carne asada.

Hell, look at the slide show that accompanies the Price piece—where do you see lettuce and cheese?

Bittman is kind enough to give us a recipe or two (or three) for the meat part, but after that, ignore his article. Instead, go get some good corn tortillas (the small ones); for each taco, heat TWO tortillas (either on the grill, or by rolling them in foil and putting them in a low oven), stack them, place a small amount of meat down the center of the top tortilla, garnish with a little chopped onion, chopped cilantro, and, if you like, a scant amount of salsa roja, salsa verde, or salsa fresca, roll or fold, and eat. . . .

And that’s it! No lettuce. No Cheese. Near perfect, and far more legitimate.

(Tip of the hat to Jay for first alerting me to the taco trip article, and a tip of the hat to Cindy Price for giving a t.o.t.h. to Bandini and his seminal taco blog, The Great Taco Hunt—always classy when the print folks acknowledge the blog folks.)


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