We Americans tend to use the term “taco” rather loosely. You can throw just about anything into a tortilla and refer to it as such.
While culinary creativity makes the world a delicious place, we should understand the roots of this staple food as it strongly identifies with Mexican cuisine.
Prior to the Spanish invasion, historians believe that the miners popularized the taco with elements available to them. But, the people most likely ate them far earlier.
It carries indigenous roots, as corn provided sustenance and even connected to ancient deities. So let’s pay homage to authentic tacos and learn how they differ from the American version.
Table of Contents
The Shell of It
When comparing American tacos vs. Mexican tacos, the shell speaks volumes. In America, you often get to choose between corn and wheat for the tortilla.
This already takes away from the authenticity of your taco. While a wheat shell does an amazing job holding in the constituents along with the flavors, Mexicans only used corn tortillas traditionally.
Corn flourished in that part of the world and became a way of life in many ways. Europeans brought wheat long after they began eating tacos.
So, authentic tacos only come wrapped with two warm and soft corn tortillas, created through the process of nixtamalization. Hard shells actually make tostadas, not tacos.
The Meat of Authentic Tacos
Slap ground beef on your warm tortillas, and make something delicious, but not a taco! Fear not, many good types of meat create authentic Mexican tacos.
In a real taco, expect meat shredded or in lumps. Often roasted or stewed in juices, you may find pork, goat, lamb, or beef. Click here for more info on how to prepare the meat!
If you go for an indigenous taco, you may find something a little different. The Aztec versions contain insects rather than meat. Before you turn up your nose at it, know that they can add amazing texture and flavor, along with a punch of nutrients.
Toppin’ It Off Authentically
In America, we tend to overdo most things. The more toppings you add to your taco, the less likely you are to enjoy something authentic.
An authentic taco recipe does not include sour cream or shredded cheese, like the American version. They might have fresh cucumber, onion, or cilantro. These ingredients may or may not be separate from the salsa itself.
Americans tend to soup up the salsa and guac. Traditionally, these additions come very simply made to go on a taco.
Salsa only contains tomatoes, chilis, cilantro, and onions. Guacamole does not contain seasonings traditionally. It only consists of avocado, tomato, onions, chilis, and serrano.
Enjoy the Authenticity
You can still enjoy an American taco bar with flour shells, sour cream, and shredded cheese from time to time. But, there is something amazing about understanding where the cuisine came from and eating it in its traditional state. No knock-off beats authentic tacos.
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