Move over Joy of Cooking, because I have a new cookbook crush, and it’s no passing fancy. It’s a sizzling flavor-packed fiesta of recipes, color, art, and taco trivia that make my cheeks hurt from grinning and my stomach grumbling for más. Claiming that “everything fits in a tortilla”, Tacopedia, The Taco Encyclopia covers every tidbit from tortillas (the average Mexican consumes 135 pounds of them each year) to taco stands (which sprung up during the revolution to feed the troops), serving up Vitamin T on every page.
And there’s more. So much more I’m thinking that tacos—the history of and the indulging in—is worthy of an undergraduate degree, with Tacopedia as required reading. Aside from the rocking design and photos in this book, there are recipes and folklore for tacos (on the grill, on the griddle, al pastor, deep-fried, in the basket), beans, quesadillas, enchiladas, flautas, and salsas, along with addresses of where to find the best of each when you’re next in Mexico. Holy molé there’s a lot cooking here.
Love tacos but feel like a gringo sometimes? Maybe it’s time to familiarize yourself with some tacography to better appreciate the provenance of your favorite recipe, or at least learn some proper taco truck etiquette.
As contributor Jorge F. Hernandez warns, “this tasty tome is in your hands: a napkin will be required to catch the drooling that will inevitably occur when leafing through these pages.”
I’d like a plane ticket to go with my napkin, please.
- 2¼ lb (1 kg) tenderloin or rib eye, sliced into small strips
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
- Sea salt
- 1 tablespoon corn oil
- 9 oz (250 g) diced onion
- 2¼ lb (1 kg) medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 serrano chiles, sliced into rings
- 12-20 4⅓-inch (11 cm) corn tortillas
- Sliced avocado, rice and beans, for serving
- Mix the meat with the garlic, ground pepper, cumin, and a pinch of salt. Cover and chill marinate for 3 hours.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over low heat. Add the onion and fry for a few minutes, until translucent.
- Raise the heat, add the meat and marinade, and sauté for 7 minutes.
- Add the tomato and chiles, and season to taste. Simmer until the liquid thickens.
- Serve in heaping spoonfuls on doubled fresh tortillas, with rice, beans, or avocado.
Adapted from Tacopedia: The Taco Encyclopedia by Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena, (Phaidon, $29.95, September 2015-www.phaidon.com).