Taco Salad. This Is It Eatery, Freeport IL.
Above: Taco Salad from This Is It Eatery, Freeport Illinois.
I've always had a thing for taco salads (or taco bowls, same thing). I didn't eat a taco until I was in college. We had no Mexican food near Pittsfield- not even a Taco Bell, something I never tried until I was in my 30s. That shit is NASTY.
I saw tacos as a teen. I remember those hard shell taco box kits at friend's houses and wished they'd make them while I was around. I suppose I saw tacos on TV and probably in MAD Magazine. Tacos were oddly alluring, though I can't imagine anything less sexy than ground beef. The hard shell was so pretty. So pretty.
As soon as I hit NYC I started in with tacos. Cheap, delicious, and gorgeous! I had no idea that they could/should be made with a soft tortilla binding the gorgeousness together. On a trip to Los Angeles I was introduced to fish tacos. Gimme gimme! Soon after that I witnessed my first taco salad. What the heck?
Taco salads have absolutely no roots in Mexican (or even in Hispanic- keep reading) cuisine. Their lineage goes only as far South as Tex-Mex. Delicious but as authentically Mexican as a Royale With Cheese is French.
Since Donald Trump's infamous taco salad tweet ("Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill! I love Hispanics!") taco salads have been always on my mind. That numb tweet is hard to forget even without the photo of Trump with his weird little thumb up. Cinco de Mayo is a lesser Mexican holiday that Americans have marketed to sell Cuervo and chimichangas- a dish only slightly more Mexican than the taco salad. The "I love hispanics" line is also a bit of a chucklefest, as Hispanic countries run all the way from the southern US border all the way down to Argentina and include a bunch of easy to name islands over in the Carribean. OOPSIE! Once we get that wall built we'll be safe with the knowledge that the taco bowl is "ours" at last.
The taco bowl I just ate at This Is It Eatery was pretty delicious- sometimes authenticity is overrated. Consider taco salads a gateway drug. Eat a few and it's a slippery slope. Before long you'll be hooked on chapulines!