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Sunday, December 12, 2010
Tacos de Guisado La Tapatia,Mexico City: A Stone's Throw From Terminal 2 in Nearby Pantitlan,These Tacos Will Have You Praying for a Flight Delay
While my comrades in arms grumble and moan about a layover in Mexico City returning from the reaches of Mexico, I have taken these opportunites to execute various sorties into the city. With five hours, I can hit a major restaurant in Polanco or Condesa, fours hours and perhaps I'll hit a fonda in the city center, with three, the Mercado Merced, but give me a mere two hour stop and I'll treat you to some true street gourmet.
Tacos de guisado, or tacos of stews, are the most common type of street tacos in Mexico City.They range from the traditional stands with a soulful few stews like hard boiled egg and rice,blood sausage,chicharrones in green sauce,picadillo, to complex sauces and moles . They can even have chopped up hotdogs, sauteed with vegetables, quite common, or even such bold fillings as chiles en nogada or creamed spinach, like at a spot run by a woman named Paty in Condesa, where her creative stews draw in street connoisseurs that frequent her popular taco de guisado stand. I even witnessed an elderly gentleman order up a taco of french fries at some street stand in the centro historico.
Most tacos of guisados stands have around six to eight guisados, but I've seen some carry over twenty-five selections, the the place outside the Mercado Merced, near the flower market. These are the tacos of mom's home cooking. Something delicious your abuelita has on the stove. "No time to eat,son?" "I'll make you a taquito to go." The mouth-watering stew are bonded to the tortilla with rice. Throw in some beans, and you've got a comida economica in a taco.
While exploring options in the vicinity of Terminal 2, where Aeromexico is located, I stumbled across Taco de Guisado La Tapatia. The matriarch of the family hails from Guadalajara, but this kitchen is pure chilango.
As in many tacos de guisado stands, the home crafted stews are kept warm in cazuelas on a heated surface. Some use the more modern steam trays, but you know, we love it when we see these casserole dishes all laid out and stacked.
La Tapatia sets out around twelve stews each day from a repertory of the thirty or more they have listed,or whatever else they feel like cooking. The guisados change each day.
Tacos de guisado are early morning to early afternoon tacos, or until they run out.They're made for the working class during the week.On weekends, they are either closed, or they switch to more comfort style dishes.On the weekends in Mexico City, everyone is chasing down menudo, birria, or barbacoa, but it will be back to those guisados on Monday morning.
Before you squeeze throught the narrow entry way into their tiny fonda, you see a menu posted on either side of the entrance. A list of guisados was probably compiled when they opened, but hardly worth a second glance, just ask what they have today.
I have a feeling they never bothered measuring the taco cart parked in the entryway to their restaurant, but it does provide quite a spectacle, watching everyone slide into the seating area.You can also sit outside on a couple of plastic chairs, but I enjoy in their dining room and kitchen. Watching the salsas being made while your eyes smart from the grinding of capsaicin, or the little stack of dirty dishes in the sink that you can practically reach from the center table of the restaurant.It brings back memories of dining in my grandmother's kitchen to be close to aromas, the clanging of pots and pans, the sounds of running water,boiling stews, and sizzling meats.
La Tapatia is a serious kitchen. Chicharrones en salsa verde is full of aromatics, and whole stalks of cilantro. Brush this on your taco and you've a masterpiece, one of classical origins.
Chile relleno in a tomato sauce, with mild spice will make you a believer in this often poorly prepared dish. Chiles rellenos are difficult to master, and these are the product of greatness.It's about the balance of flavors and textures.
The taco de molito verde is a required eating. A green pumkin seed mole with depth and a wonderful mouth feel.
The taco de alambre is one of the reasons a second tortilla comes with your order. You can make a second taco. Sauteed Oaxacan cheese, ham, peppers, onions, bacon, and whatever else the cook throws in. This is Mexican hash.
Chicharron prensado, a Mexico City favorite consists of pork parts and fat pressed into a molded form. When cooked it falls apart and has a pork on steroids kind of sensation. La Tapatia's version comes spicy and sassy.
Oh, the pollo almendrado is so good. Chicken is cooked in a thick almond based sauce until it has the perfect consistency. Spicy, nutty, herbacious, and divinely seasoned.
And, the manitas de cerdo, pig's feet? Forget about it! These have pleasurable sting of spice, and the fall apart trotters bring opulence and inspiration.
This is a world class taco. There are some salsa on the table but use your discretion, many of the guisados require no additional condiment.
But there's nothing like a great moronga, or blood sausage. Another dificult dish to master. I had a blood sausage taco in San Juan de Letran one day that truly tested my resistence to bacteria and rot. You don't want to get a hold of a bad one of these!
At La Tapatia, you can also get some beans with your order, that come on these small styrofoam plates. Outside you'll get a taco, inside, a bit of guisado to make your own tacos.
I couldn't get over the scent of this moronga.When I inquired of the elegance of this taco, la abuelita showed me fresh laurel, hierbabuena(mint), and thyme wrapped in a bouquet.Her smile lit up when I questioned about ingredients, full of knowing pride at her culinary achievement.
There is no hint of off putting flavors, which I do enjoy a little bit of funk, but this taco at La Tapatia could convert the most squeamish of diners. Moronga is a delicacy and is treated as such by the cooks at this humble eatery.
So, drop that burger, ditch that line for airport carne asada and escape the culinary confines of Terminal 2 into Pantitlan.Check in you bags, and drop your carry on off at the lockers near the exit. As you head out of the airport drop-off and pick up area, follow the walkway to Eje 1 Norte and make a left.Make a left on Santos Dumont, and take the fidt right,Juan Guillermo Villasana. Just past the first street, Rolando Garros, on the right hand side of the street is Tacos de Guisado La Tapatia. It'll take about 10-15 minutes to get back inside the airport.
A stop here will change your whole travel experience, and send you home with a smile. Next time you have a layover, or a flight delay, your frown will yield to the feelings of excitement that will set your appetite to primal stimulation. I wonder what La Tapatia has today?
Tacos de Guisado La Tapatia
Located on Juan G. Villasana near Rolando Garros