Anyone who knows me, knows tacos are my favorite food. I could eat them for every meal and be happy.
That said, there is a difference between Tex-mex tacos (pictured above), which is what most Americans consider to be regular tacos, and the original Mexican version.
The origin of tacos traces back to the days of the Aztecs, when corn tortillas were used to scoop up food. When the women would take their husbands meals in the farm fields, they would wrap the food in tortillas, and the taco was born.
As the Mexican society evolved, tacos were soon sold from stands and street carts, and the dish spread as the people migrated to other areas, including what is now Texas. Since several ingredients weren’t available across the border, Texans adapted the taco to what they had on hand.
Today, there are some differences between authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex tacos:
- Mexican tacos traditionally use soft corn tortillas, where Tex-Mex use flour tortillas or hard corn shells.
- Mexican tacos are usually topped with diced onion, fresh cilantro and occassionally a pinch of Cotja cheese or sliced radishes. Tex-Mex tacos are usually topped with lettuce, tomato, and shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese.
- Mexican tacos are flavored with spices used in marinating the meat filling, but the heat is added with homemade salsas of different spice levels. Tex-Mex meat filling tends to be spicier and saltier, but the salsa is more mild, and often from a jar or a bottle of hot sauce, which is different from salsa.
Of course over the years, many chefs have put their own spin on tacos, blending Mexican and Tex-Mex, or even coming up with new combinations. One restaurant here in Orlando, Tako Cheena, uses Asian and African-spiced fillings, instead of traditional Mexican, and then there’s Roy Choi’s Korean BBQ tacos, popular in L.A.
Do you have a favorite type of taco or a favorite restaurant that serves tacos? Let me know in the comments.
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