Inspirational Food Writing Pieces - “Another human being’s syntax is the soul’s water.” Compiling a list of beautiful food writing. Mostly for myself and personal inspiration but all are free...
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tacos Guanajuato,Boyle Heights, CA-Count Tacula and Mt. Tacocatepetl
With the blessings of the priest at the Lady of Talpa School in Boyle Heights, and throngs of hungry locals, Tacos Guanajuato has bequeathed unto Los Angeles, Vampiros(vampires). The Talpa shrine in Mexico, where one of the famous virgin Marys resides, is a a place where pilgrims go to receive miracles, well, if you're driving through Boyle Heights and hankering for something affordable and delicious, these guys certainly have the cure. The stand is located just outside the gate of the Lady of Talpa school, technically on the property, but no vampires are allowed inside the gate!
These tacos have been engineered by taqueros in labs to maximize sensorial delight.They are a construct of all that is good.
The menu has tacos and tortas, as well as the vampiros and volcanes(volcanoes). Vampiros and volcanes are the same thing, just depends on your STATE of mind. In Guanajuato, where this stand's taquero Pepe is from, they are called volcanes. In the state of Sinaloa they are referred to as vampiros.
The typical meats for vampiros, or volcanes, are asada and al pastor. Pepe has a well manicured trompo loaded with al pastor and the reassurance of pineapple atop the device. This is a sign! Pepe takes care to prepare on quality grilled, roasted, and steamed proteins. There's also tripa dorada(tripe cooked until dry and crunchy),and steamed cabeza(beef head).
Jose Luis is a true taquero ands takes his work seriously. He has the kind of pleasant, gentlemanly demeanour that is as traditional as his tacos. Yes, he's here to earn a living, but mostly he's here to make great tacos.
Ulises, handles the money and keeps a well-stocked condiment table. Cucumbers, radishes,limes, and three salsas, the pico de gallo is the right call for the vampiros/volcanes.
The tacos here are solid, I loved the rib and the tongue. Pepe peeled the tongue casing off right before my very eyes, "yes I'll have the steamed tongue." The rib has a nice oily sheen that adds to the enjoyment of this taco.
But the vampiro is to die for, and the volcan, explosive. It is called the volcano in Guanajuato because of its construction:a grill top dried corn tortilla, topped with melted cheese, carne asada or al pastor, and a mound of pico de gallo make it a dead ringer for an active volcano. Sinaloans call it the vamiro because, well, no one seems to know. If you ask most Sinaloans the origin of the vampiro, you'll get an "I don't know", but they all know what it is. I asked a friend from Tijuana while we were working in Mazatlan one night,"Where do these vampiros come from?" "Romania", he answered, with a straight face."Thanks for nothing, cabron."
I had to dig a little on this one, there was some stuff on the internet on english language blogs, but nothing in spanish and none of my Sinaloan friends here in LA and in Sinaloa had an answer. The accepted explanation on a few blogs is that it gets its name because the charred, crispy taco resembles a bat wing? Could be true, but a citation is needed. Two other hypotheses I've come up with is that the tortilla is wrinkled like Dracula's cape, and the fact that the vampiros only come out at night. Woo-oo-ah-AH! Or, mabe some costumed vampire showed up one night and asked for a tostada with cheese and asada, and with no deep fryer on hand, the taquero dried out the tortilla on the grill. "What do we call them?" "Vampiros, guey" (Vampires, fool.)
In any case, you can enjoy these in Sinaloa, and the Sinaloan stands in Tijuana, and right here outside the Lady of Talpa school in Boyle Heights. I will continue to ponder the question:"Do vampires really exist?"
Just for fun I ordered a vampiro with asada and a volcan with al pastor, Pepe just smiled. By know he's used to it.Oh, and Pepe doesn't know why its called a vampiro either. Many of his patrons haven't even heard of either of these tacos. But, it's an easy sell.
What sets this volcan, or vampiro apart from all the others I've had though is the way Pepe prepares the cheese. Instead of melting it on the tortilla, he grills the cheese directly, making a burnt cheese crepe out of one side of the cheese. He sticks this, "chicharron of cheese" side up, and melted cheese adheres to the tortilla on the bottom. Crunchy tortilla, with two textures of cheese, savory meats, and a cooling pico de gallo? This IS the taco miracle of Boyle Heights.
Tacos Guanajuato,Vampiros and Volcanes.
Located in front of the Lady of Talpa School
Savannah St., just south of 4th in Boyle Heights.
Every day except Tuesday from 6PM-11PM, later Fridays and Saturdays