If you were born in the United States your version of tacos is very likely not even close to the version of tacos you would find in a Hispanic culture. Many restaurants here in America provide tacos with hard shells, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and mild sauce. Anyone that has had a true Mexican taco knows that this is just simply not what a taco was intended to be. Today Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant is going to teach you all about traditional Mexican tacos.
First let’s start with the word taco. The word taco was not originally used to describe a food item. Paul M. Pilcher researched the history of tacos and discovered that the word taco came from the silver mines in Mexico. The word taco actually referred to an explosive that was used in the mines. A taco was a small piece of dynamite used to help blow up part of the rock. The word taco was not used to describe the food until the 19th century.
Mexican Street Tacos
Since then tacos have been served throughout the world. Traditional Mexican tacos are called street tacos. They are typically served on corn tortillas and are stuffed with meat. Traditional toppings include onions, cilantro, and salsa. There is no lettuce, tomatoes, or cheese in traditional street tacos. Those toppings have been added so that they more closely resemble the tacos that most Americans are now familiar with.
Meats Used in Authentic Mexican Street Tacos
Tacos do come in a wide variety of meats. Despite what Americans might think, ground beef is not one of the meat options that is typically used in street tacos. We will discuss some of the most common types of filling that is used in street tacos.
• Barbacoa: Traditional barbacoa is actually lamb meat. It is wrapped in banana leaves and then cooked in a hole in the ground. Today barbacoa pork is also frequently used as a taco filling.
• Carnitas: Carnitas tacos are some of the most popular tacos around. They are made from pork. The pork is seasoned with herbs, orange juice, and salt. They are put in water on a copper dish and fried with lard.
• Al Pastor: Al Pastor is sometimes a mixture of pork and beef but typically it is only beef. The meat is seasoned with axiote and red peppers. The meat is seasoned and then put on a metal stick that slowly rotates so that the meat cooks evenly. The meat is sliced right off of the stick and put directly into your taco. Al Pastor tacos are the probably undeniably the single most popular type of taco served in Mexico City.
• Carne Asada: The literal translation of carne asada is grilled meat. Carne asada is steak that is marinated in citrus juices, cumin, and other spices. Once the meat is cooked it is thinly sliced.
Mexican Cuisine in Las Vegas, Nevada (Just Minutes from Summerlin, North LV & Henderson, NV)
There are many other different types of meat that tacos can be made from as well. Different types of seafood is used regularly to make delicious tacos. You should definitely try all sorts of different tacos until you find your favorites. Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant looks forward to serving a variety of tacos and other Mexican dishes soon!