Vegetarians should read no further…
Eating tacos at roadside stalls during my stay in Mexico City reminded me just how much I like globs of fatty meat.
Even better, fatty meat sitting on a soft corn tortilla, accompanied by chopped onion and herbs, and maybe a squeeze of lime or a dab of salsa for that Lat-Am kick.
There is something irresistably primeval about the experience of using your fingers to transport your tasty chunks from plate to gaping mouth.
Although by no means all tacos are made with fatty meat, a memorable one I had recently would be a prime contender in any fatty taco contest. I am not sure what the meat or cut was: in Mexico there are many variations, from taco al pastor to taco de longaniza, taco de maciza, taco de chuleta…
But anyway, it went down like baby food.
Another time, at the same stall which served up that mystery fatty taco, I enjoyed a taco de cabeza (that’s meat from a cow’s head), which I was pleased to find had some more than passable fatty gristly bits.
Unhealthy? Well, I’m not so sure it is. The corn tortilla is a wholesome change from the standard bread products using flour made from wheat. Even better, it’s a break from the pappy white stuff that passes for bread in most industrialised countries.
Indeed, a taco is fast food for the purist – being not much more than meat, corn and herbs.
Can we make similar claims for the hotdog, which has crawled its way south to Mexico from the USA (and north, east and west as well)? Definitely not. What about the omnipresent ‘hamburguesa’, as they call it in Mexico? Or, pride of my very own England, sausage rolls and other products made from calorie-laden pastry (which hide their meaty contents, perhaps out of shame)?
No. These are generally processed foods with quite a number of additives to boot. And you don’t get fresh coriander or other taco touches sprinkled on top.
Back in the day, when humans depended on slaughtered game for their meat-centred meals, I’ll bet our cavemen ancestors gathering round the roasted deer grabbed at the really fatty bits like they were going out of fashion. Not for them the fillet steaks that do so much damage to our wallets in fancy restaurants. They knew what was good and what would see them through a winter’s night.
Those instincts are still alive in me, as in many other folk. After enjoying a roast lamb in our house, I sneak into the kitchen to attack the carcass and pop a couple of greasy scraps, preferably with salty skin attached, into my already slime-covered mouth. They slip down oyster-style.
Fatty meat should not be shunned. It should be celebrated by princes and paupers alike for its taste, texture and comfort food value. It really is the ultimate meat.