The small handful of you that follow us on Twitter or listen to the podcast might be familiar with my gripe about the “Walk-A-Taco“; a local food item currently being promoted at Target Field.
Despite being the product of Saint Paul’s iconic Latin market, El Burrito Mercado, the Walk-a-Taco is essentially everything that Americans get wrong with Mexican food compounded into a conical travesty of shredded lettuce and ground beef. The supreme wrongness of the concept, along with the condescending tone in which it’s marketed to Target Field patrons, reaches a level of stupidity so epic that my body is unable to produce the sarcasm necessary to express how much it bothers me.
I’ll try anyway.
Stupid Thing #1: The Concept.
According to El Burrito Mercado’s Tomas Silva; this conical abomination was created with the intention to “Make it so people could enjoy good Mexican food in an easier format”. I’ll get into how not-Mexican the actual contents are in a moment; but for now I want to focus on the forehead-slapping stupidity of the above statement.
An “easier format”. AN EASIER FORMAT?
Is there an easier cuisine on earth to eat than Mexican food? Were the people of Minnesota clamoring for an easier vehicle in which to deliver ground beef and onions into their mouths? Should we add “eating the world’s simplest street food” to the list of things Minnesotans can’t do, along with “navigate a four-way Stop sign” or “win a Super Bowl*”?
Being a non-native Minnesotan; I give the locals a lot of crap for being dumb; but always with the caveat that they’re mostly smart with a tendency to do dumb things. Sure they vote wrastlers and unemployed comedians to public office; but there’s plenty of good museums, theaters and schools to make up for it. They’re not Missouri or Oklahoma dumb, more like Massachusetts dumb.
But to take something like a taco, which is purpose built for holding in your hand while you eat it, and somehow find a way to dumb it down because “DURRRR! EATING TACOS MAKES MY BRAIN HURT!” drags this state to Mississippi-levels of dumbassery.
Look! Here’s a four year old eating a taco while standing up. Notice how he’s not crying for his mommy to show him how to do it. Notice how he’s not having any kind of aneurism due to the complex logistics involved in taco eating.
Now perhaps the Minnesota contingent reading this will argue; “But Headchef! Clearly this boy is some kind of child prodigy future rocket surgeon. Eating a taco while standing is not something that any idiot can do!”
I submit the following evidence to the contrary:
Pictured: Two idiots eating tacos while standing.
Stupid Thing #2: The Execution
A quick browsing of my iTunes library will demonstrate to anyone that I have a high tolerance, nay- a love, of lowbrow trash. One thing I am ruthlessly snobbish about, however, is Mexican food.
Growing up in the Southwest and California, having Mexican half-siblings and learning to cook from these family members instilled in me a deep and abiding love for authentic Mexican cuisine in all its variations. I dig Tex-Mex food as well, but I’ve known since I was about 6 that if your taco/tostada/burrito is covered in shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese and sour cream- then it ain’t really Mexican food, tasty as it may be.
That’s the other thing that infuriates me about the Walk-a-Taco; is that almost nothing about it bears any resemblance to a taco. Head down I35 to Laredo some time, purchase yourself a flak jacket and head across the border to get a taco.
If you order from a stand where Mexicans are eating; the first thing you’ll notice is that your tacos, in addition to costing roughly 12 cents each, look like this:
Lengua Taco on Home-made Tortilla
That’s some braised cow tongue on a handmade SOFT CORN tortilla, garnished simply with chopped onion and cilantro. If you want to go really crazy you can throw some salsa or a thin taqueria guacamole on there; but anything else is essentially gilding the lily.
The Walk-a-taco eschews simplicity, authenticity and good taste for the Midwestern standby of PILING ON THE CHEESE AND TOPPINGS!
First off- the whole thing is stuffed into a fried flour tortilla. This makes sense from a structural standpoint considering the mess of toppings within, but is a big fail in the nomenclature department, as the the fried flour shell would put it more in chimichanga territory than anything else.
Further investigation from this guy’s excellent review reveals the ugly truth: The Walk-a-taco is, in fact, less a taco than a taco salad. Apparently once you drop below the ground beef facade and into the tortilla itself; the contents are mostly shredded lettuce dressed in vinaigrette!
For those of you keeping score at home; the cumulative offenses of the Walk-a-Taco are as follows:
- Fried flour tortilla
- Ground beef
- Shredded lettuce
- Cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Chopped tomatoes
- The perfunctory addition of jalapenos and cilantro
- Motherfucking salad dressing
The most offensive detail comes courtesy of Josh’s review; that the Walk-a-Taco not only comes with a fork, but requires one in order to be eaten.
WHAT THE FUCK?
To review: The “taco” designed to make Mexican food “more accessible” and “easier to eat” is neither more accessible or easier to eat than an actual taco, nor is it remotely Mexican. The Walk-a-Taco is an absolute failure of concept, execution and delivery.
It’s a fucked-out boondoggle of a food item that could barely be eaten sitting on the couch in front of the TV; let alone at the ballpark it was intended to be eaten at. A cold seafood tower makes more sense as ballpark fare than this faux-Mexican abortion in a cone.
The most infuriating part is that if they really wanted to have a ballpark-ready Tex-Mex item that’s a portable mess of ground beef, cheese and sour cream; they could have simply used the one that already exists.
It’s called the Walking Taco. It’s a bag of corn chips (usually Fritos) cut open with a bunch of Tex-Mex toppings like chili and cheese dumped on top of them. They’re popular all over the Southwest at rodeos and football games, and while they do require a fork to eat, you can actually eat them while standing or walking.
I really wish I could have been present at the meeting where they decided an inedible mess of a taco salad served in a giant Bugle made more sense at Target Field than a Tex-Mex classic with practically the SAME FUCKING NAME.
No doubt they spent enough time watching the locals struggle with four way Stop signs and decided they didn’t want to risk customers suffocating themselves with the chip bag.
I went to Target Field for the third time this year and saw plenty of suckers carrying Walk-a-Tacos around. Not in their hands, mind you. No, they needed a cardboard stand to hold them in while they brought their shit-in-a-tortilla back to their seats.
Two days later I made flank steak tacos for a friend’s birthday; complete with handmade tortillas. We found ourselves outside on my porch watching the Aquatennial fireworks while we were eating. The view necessitated that we stand up while eating our tacos and, shockingly, no one broke their neck doing so.
Anyway; if you want to know how to make a taco that doesn’t suck; here’s the recipe for tacos de lengua. Try not to kill yourselves eating them.