Taco Love

by Matt Armendariz

peppertacos.jpgThings I will not argue about nor generally discuss in mixed company:

1. Politics
2. Religion
3. Tacos

Since you're already reading, my answer for this is simple: What is the point? I cannot change minds and sometimes it's really pointless to enter debate on such things. But if you ask I'll tell you 1) I'm pretty much in the middle (and you thought I was some crazy left-leaning liberal?), 2) my grandfather was a Presbyterian minister and the church was a big part of my world and 3) tacos are quite possible one of the world's most perfect foods ever created, hands down. You can't tell me any differently.

I can't say I'm a taco expert but I'm pretty sure if you were to sample some of my DNA you'd find a few strands of taco on those little ladder wrungs. You'd also find house music, red wine, a flair for the dramatic paired with rusty Shields & Yarnell moves and some specks of tattoo ink. What I'm saying is that tacos are to me what bagels are to this guy and what chocolate is to this other character I know. I am a taco.

Wait. That didn't sound the way I meant it to sound. Oh well.

I have some dear friends who spend their days and nights in search of the perfect taco but I haven't the heart to tell them that even a mediocre taco is still better than no taco at all. And really, I know you'll agree; savory fillings wrapped in a warm soft tortilla drizzled with a dash of sauce or squeeze of lime. OR, again, savory fillings wrapped in a crunchy fried shell and topped with cheese or tobasco sauce. OR, well, you can see why you just can't define a taco.

Where I grew up tacos meant one thing; where I live now they mean something else entirely. But rather than pretend to be an expert or create any rift whatsoever I've learned to just go with it. Seriously. Besides, it's hard to argue when your hands are busy holding fluffy clouds of perfection to your mouth or fighting orange grease from dripping down your elbows.

Taco, I love you.

Chile Poblano & Grilled Summer Squash Tacos

This is what happens when your significant other (soon to be real-life husband, thank you State of California!) leaves you alone for weeks on end. You get lazy, you don't want to shop for one, and you rummage through the fridge looking for things to create a meal. And for some reason I found poblano peppers and squash on my counter and everything I needed to make veggie tacos. I'm sure I have some relatives back home who would sling chorizo at me for making tacos sin carne, but whatevs I say. I'm Californian now, damnit. And you know what? They were amazing. Full of flavor and smoky goodness because I grilled the veggies before topping with queso anejo. And really, anything with cheese on top is going to be good, donchathink? There's not really a recipe here as much as a method so please forgive the inexact quantities.

2 Poblano Chiles
2 yellow squash
1 large purple onion
1 bunch of cilantro
a handful of queso anejo or a few dollops of queso fresco or sour cream
salt and pepper
some olive oil

peppertacos2.jpgFirst, you'll want to put on some Freddy Fender and crack open a cold one. I actually made a Michelada to enjoy but it didn't taste right so I made another. That one didn't taste right either so I had to make another one. Wouldn't you know I messed up again so I had to start all over again. Aye. Oh yes, the peppers. First you need to get the skin off of the poblano peppers by charring them over a flame until they get black. Yes, you are burning them but it's ok; you need them black and charred so that the skin comes off completely. And man do I love that smell. Once you're done place them in a paper bag for a few minutes so that they steam. Remove from the bag, say a few curse words in Spanish because you're impatient, and rub the skin off of the peppers. I do this under running water because it's just easier and you'll want to get rid of all the seeds and stem, too.

Once complete, pat dry the peppers and slice into strips and slice the squash lengthwise. Slice the onion into rings and then drizzle olive oil over all the veggies. Cook on a grill until tender and then place the strips of vegetables in corn tortillas and season with salt and pepper and a crumble of the queso anejo and chopped cilantro. And then have another beer and cry because they taste so good but no one is around to enjoy them with you.


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