This I Believe

Michael - Houston, Texas
Entered on August 15, 2007
Age Group: Under 18


Few things in my life match the authenticity of ordering a taco and watching as the knife slices beef off of a perfectly cooked piece of meat, and then knowing that instead of lettuce and tomato that meat is going to be adorned in cilantro and onion on a corn, not flour, tortilla.

I believe in tacos. In Texas, the tension between the American and the Mexican culture finds resolution in the taco. From fast food to Tex-Mex to the taquierias of the barrio, the taco reins supreme.

When ordering a taco in the barrio do not always assume your waitress cannot speak English. (Fellow gringos have ventured this far into the world of tacos.) Saying maiz tortilla will only confuse your waitress, she knows to listen for corn. However, always use the Spanish word to indicate the meat you want. The heart ache of ordering chicken and receiving pollo rather than the juicy perfection of pechuga must be avoided at all costs.

Each human being can take the taco and make what they want. In Mexico: corn or flour tortillas? In Texas: corn or flour or crunchy? In Mexico: fajita, pollo, pechuga, or barbacoa? In Texas: beef or chicken, upgrade to fajita?

The taco is a fundamentally good idea, meat and tortilla with various adornments for flavor— perfect. While the sandwich bears too much bread and drowns out the flavor, the tortilla acts as a vehicle that does not overwhelm its passengers.

I love the size of Tex-Mex tacos. Texas has a habit of making things as big as its ego. The Tex-Mex taco proves unwieldy in my hands. I take big bites, trying not to induce a total taco collapse. Napkins or the sweet trophy of licking my fingers clean are a must.

The moment that a taco really spoke to me was in a backstreet taquieria. I watched as my friend, a vegetarian, ordered, consumed, and loved three avocado tacos. I learned then that tacos could accommodate anyone. If people were as accommodating as tacos, the world would be a better place. I can sleep at night because while people aren’t as great as tacos, they do make tacos.