By Kerri Conan
No one drives a taco truck yet in my neck of Kansas, but since the craze is contagious and we do have access to good local corn tortillas, I too have become an aspiring tacologist.
In this new science, those behind the wheel of the taco truck trend provide both our inspiration and some ground rules: All of our experiments will be delicious. We will be respectful of—but not hamstrung by—authenticity. And the toppings should be crunchy, colorful, maybe creamy, and more interesting than iceberg lettuce and Jack cheese.
To me, the toppings are the most challenging component. They must complement but not overpower whatever went into the tortilla before them; yet they are the last thing we see. Shredded cabbage is fine of course, and no one can argue with kimchee on top of Korean barbeque beef. But what else? Let’s harness the full power of crisp greens and raw vegetables into our taco concoctions.
Okay, I’ll go first. With our spring garden in full swing, I turned to radishes—a classic garnish for many Mexican dishes. Only I used the whole thing, slicing the roots thinly and shredding their flavorful leaves like lettuce. Then I tossed in some chopped cilantro and chives and a pinch of sea salt. (The filling was also pretty simple and benefited from the tail-end of last year’s garden ingredients: beef chuck stir-fried with garlic, dried tomatillo slices, and our house ground dried chile mix—a combination of habanero, cayenne, and criolla peppers. On the side I made a quick avocado-mango salsa to make sure the creamy factor was covered.)
There’s the first lob. What are the rest of you tacologists eating?