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"How do the tacos help gumbo?"
July 16, 2007 9:16 AM   Subscribe

"How do the tacos help gumbo?" Hold the tacos, New Orleans says. In yet another pig-ignorant move in Post-Katrina New Orleans, local politicians have decided to destroy the booming taco-truck business that is feeding the workers (and plenty of the locals) who are rebuilding the city. Blame racism, blame taxes, blame immigration politics: A hundred years ago this line of reasoning would have banned the muffulettas and poor-boys that those invading hordes of Sicilians were using to corrupt our youth.
posted by ColdChef (93 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mmmm. It's lunch and I'm hungry. I could go for one of Central Grocery's muffulettas right now!
posted by ericb at 9:24 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Banning the trucks won't stop the Latinos from coming.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can't get to the first link, but here's the story on the NOLA blog.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:28 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd like to try one of these booming tacos, but I'm more than 10 feet from a toilet. Advice?
posted by DU at 9:28 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wish somebody would bring taco trucks to the UK. Or any kind of authentic and edible Mexican or Tex-Mex food. In any location. But I especially like the look of those Taco Trucks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:30 AM on July 16, 2007


Obviously, the people passing these idiotic laws have never tasted taco-truck food. Mmmmm...
posted by po at 9:30 AM on July 16, 2007


Oops. Thanks, TPS. Here's the article on a non-reg site.
posted by ColdChef at 9:33 AM on July 16, 2007


I think it's more classism than racism; poor whites, African-Americans and Latinos eat from taco trucks, too.

This is also happening in Salinas, California, where racism is slightly less probably as the primary reason.
posted by luriete at 9:33 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Road food is one of the great joys of car culture. I'll pull over for almost anything that looks interesting to me. Putting aside the fact that it's usually tasty, I'd rather support local entrepreneurship than go to one of the bazillion drive-through chains.
posted by phearlez at 9:34 AM on July 16, 2007


Good thinks happen when southern food meets Latino food.
posted by ColdChef at 9:35 AM on July 16, 2007


ya know, this kind of tirade is best for one's own blog. please save the opinion for "more inside"
posted by caddis at 9:35 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


There was some targeting of taco trucks recently near where I live, in Salinas. Salinas! This is an area whose entire economy is built on farm workers. It's every kind of produce growing for a hundred miles around. Those workers can't hop in the car and run somewhere for lunch, they don't get that kind of money or autonomy.

Well, the taco trucks were pretty ubiquitous, and the brick-and-mortar restaurants have higher overhead, including insurance costs the taco trucks are unaffected by, so the fact that the taco trucks weren't staying out in the fields and were parking in town, threatening the businesses located there with lower prices and often better food drove the city to cap the number allowed to the present number. I think that's reasonable, given you want some commercial diversity in a town.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:40 AM on July 16, 2007


ya know, this kind of tirade is best for one's own blog. please save the opinion for "more inside"

I apologize. The last line of the post is, in fact, a direct quote from the blog linked (though that isn't clear at all) and I should have refrained from calling them "pig-ignorant", though, I guess.
posted by ColdChef at 9:41 AM on July 16, 2007


The ban went down in neighboring, suburban Jefferson Parish, as the articles state. I don't see it happening in Orleans.
posted by gordie at 9:46 AM on July 16, 2007


you are right though, it is pig ignorant
posted by caddis at 9:46 AM on July 16, 2007


Down at the Taco Truck
It's where I get all my nutrition
The Taco Truck
Later on my bowels'll be bitchin'
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2007


I wish somebody would bring taco trucks to the UK. Or any kind of authentic and edible Mexican or Tex-Mex food.

It would be repelled by the tasty food firewall that surrounds the UK. So far only the crafty Indians and Pakistanis hacked a way around it and they aren't talking.
posted by srboisvert at 9:51 AM on July 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


luriete: it's absolutely racism; they don't want Mexican food supplanting Black food. Pure and simple.

Appalling.
posted by Malor at 9:55 AM on July 16, 2007


This isn't occurring in New Orleans - the officials here are way too busy fighting the crimewave that is parking on the neutral grounds (the grassy median between divided streets) and making the city "Disney-like clean" for the tourists to freak out about the taco trucks.

The taco truck ban is in Jefferson Parish, our own little slice of white-flight heaven. Despite what they say - the ban is all about racism and keeping those damn dirty mexicans out of sight and on the roof where they belong.

On preview - gordie beat me to it.
posted by djeo at 9:55 AM on July 16, 2007


Sorry. I know how New Orleanians hate to be lumped in with "da parish".
posted by ColdChef at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, the whole idea of keeping anything unsightly from marring the pristine streetscape of Metairie, Louisiana is pretty hilarious to begin with.

As I'm driving down Veterans Boulevard, I don't want anyone obscuring my view of the historic...Applebees?
posted by gordie at 10:05 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good thinks happen when southern food meets Latino food.

TexMex is really more a religion than a cuisine.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:06 AM on July 16, 2007


Jefferson parish is the Cobb county/Orange county of the GNOMA. also:

http://www.dirtycoast.com/images/metairie-large.gif
posted by eustatic at 10:07 AM on July 16, 2007


"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread." -- Anatole France
posted by cotterpin at 10:08 AM on July 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Two of my least favorite civic activities combined! Fear and hatred of street food coupled with a desire to keep certain, ahem, types out of public view. A delicate roulade of bigotry and overzealous fearful city ordinances. Served with a smile.
posted by kosem at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2007


People can be real assholes, given the opportunity.

Anyone wanting to ban taco trucks need to look into their heart and see whether they're doing God's delicious work.
posted by bshort at 10:17 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


ColdChef, "da Parish" is St. Bernard, on the other side of town. This is happening in Jefferson, which is Metairie, Harahan, and Kenner. I think Yats are already banned there.
posted by localroger at 10:20 AM on July 16, 2007


localroger, I've heard Jefferson referred to as da Parish a bunch of times.
posted by brundlefly at 10:30 AM on July 16, 2007


First they came for the taco trucks and I said nothing, for I am weak in the bowels,
Then they came for the hot dog stands...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:33 AM on July 16, 2007


I give up.
posted by tkchrist at 10:41 AM on July 16, 2007


I keep waiting for the new regional demographic to provide some decent Mexican(ish) food. We have some new restaurants in New Orleans that are okay but nothing that compares to any number of hole-in-the-wall Mom&Pop places that I used to love back in Phoenix. One of the things I've missed since moving to New Orleans is good Mexican food.

YoBananaBoy, TexMex may be a religion but it tends to be of the non-denominational megachurch variety. I'm sure there's TexMex out there that's not blasphemous but I haven't found it yet.
posted by djeo at 10:44 AM on July 16, 2007


I give up.

Shut up and have a calf brain taco. The taco truck in the 76 parking lot at Northgate and I-5 serves them. Lunch time's just an hour away.

Mmm... brains!
posted by dw at 10:48 AM on July 16, 2007


I think that there needs to be some sort of regulation.

For every 5 taco trucks rolling around, I want to see at least 1 Indian food truck or a chinese food truck.

Oh, and a rolling BBQ smokehouse.

It does surprise me to see people say that the taco trucks have better food than some of the restaurants. Makes me want to avoid the restaurants in Salinas at all costs.. ;-)
posted by drstein at 10:54 AM on July 16, 2007


My own rant is the assumption that restrooms are supposed to be supplied by business owners. like it's not a public need. If Jefferson Parish is anything like where I live, there aren't any public restrooms at all. The best you can hope for is to sneak into a restaurant and use theirs, and you can only get away with that if you look like the "right" sort. Uncivilized.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:12 AM on July 16, 2007


It does surprise me to see people say that the taco trucks have better food than some of the restaurants.

Dude, the taco truck I frequent buries local Mexican restaurants. It has better food, quicker service, and much lower prices.

You might be on to something with the Chinese Food Truck idea though...
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:18 AM on July 16, 2007


Sorry. I know how New Orleanians hate to be lumped in with "da parish".

Actually, when people say "Da Parish" they mean St. Bernard. :-)

(On preview: brundlefly, for what it's worth, I've never heard anyone say "da parish" in reference to Jefferson; always St. Bernard. YMMV, I guess. *shrug*)

But you are correct, New Orleanians dislike being lumped in with Jefferson (as Los Angelenos make a similar distinction between L.A. and Orange County).

As for what the JP pols have done ... well, what do you expect from the parish that once elected David Duke to the state legislature, and has continued to elect unrepentant racist Harry Lee as their sheriff for the last 28 years?

Incidentally, Duke was succeeded in his legislative seat by David Vitter, the family values Republican who (allegedly) cavorts with prostitutes.
posted by chuq at 11:23 AM on July 16, 2007


Street food is one of the things that makes a city and culture thrive. I used to live in Vietnam and could buy grilled pork chops, char grilled chicken, noodle soup, egg sandwiches, and rice off the street for marginally more than I would pay to buy food from a grocer. This was by far the best way for me to eat good cheap good food. This was of course, strictly against my training because these vendors were supposed to be dirty and unsanitary and sold "cheap and unhealthy" cuisine.

This is the same argument most North American cities use against street food. Cities should allow more, not less street food. It allows people, workers (generally people with jobs and a means of support- sane and stable people) to congregate in public areas, meet and allows tourists to see how real people live. I don't really think quality is a problem, most food vendors work the same location and locals will catch on to a bad vendor (if there is no line, nobody standing around, don't eat there). There are few things more enjoyable than grabbing a hot dog and enjoying the flowers in a city park while some busker is preforming in the distance. The hot dog from the street vendor probably costs me $3 versus a lunch that costs double at a mall food court. As far as it being cheap and unhealthy cuisine, a food vendor is probably using local suppliers and adapted-home-cooking-techniques versus the food court franchise which is tied to a huge corporation which is constantly trying to cut costs and make the food chain more efficient. Fast Food Nation documented the problems with huge industrialized food production.

Yes there would be a bit more garbage around to be picked up and lack of washing and toilet facilities are a concern, but is anyone really worried about a few tax dollars going into densely populated, well-used areas for good, clean public bathrooms and trash collection? I pay a lot of taxes and think this is fine.

Maybe that was my inner leftie talking, but as a capitalist I think the person running his own food operation is in a way better position for social and economic growth than he would be doing roughly the same work at the food court in the mall.

This brings me to my point, the real concern, the real reason that cities tend to discourage street food is that they don't want people meeting in public and wanting slightly better public services. I don't think concern for our health is really the issue. I think bans on street food is evidence that we have governments that treat us as consumers rather than citizens.
posted by Deep Dish at 11:24 AM on July 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


I wish somebody would bring taco trucks to the UK. Or any kind of authentic and edible Mexican or Tex-Mex food.

There's a place on Charlotte or Rathbone in Westminster called La Perla that's adequate, which is to say MUCH better than any other tex-mex I've had in Europe. Britain is the tex-mex leader of northern europe, even if it's still not great.

Take it from me-- if someone suggests you get Mexican in Helsinki, don't do it. Burritos should NOT have hazelnuts in them.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:26 AM on July 16, 2007


He said banning them is in keeping with other parish efforts to clear away signs of Katrina, such as travel trailers, storage units and blighted houses.

Funny, Katrina didn't hit DC, yet "signs of Katrina" (Latin American construction workers eating at mobile pupuserías) are everywhere.
posted by Tehanu at 11:27 AM on July 16, 2007


My wife, who is from the West Bank of New Orleans, has just read my input on this page and called me "Idiot" several times. I apologize to all New Orleanians for my mis-characterizations and mis-attributions. I promise to lash myself with several broken strands of Mardi Gras beads for my penance.
posted by ColdChef at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2007


For those Seattlites "In the know" there are only TWO (ok, maybe three) Taco Trucks worth looting Walmart for.

And I ain't talking.
posted by tkchrist at 11:32 AM on July 16, 2007


Careful of street food in Asia. It may be tasty but there is good chance your eating "mystery" meat, cardboard, or sawdust. Or all three. No shit. In China particularly. They are having a helluva time instituting window dressing health codes before the Olympics right now.
posted by tkchrist at 11:38 AM on July 16, 2007


For a couple of days during a recent construction project at the strip mall nearby, a taco truck parked near the parking lot of a Chipotle's (an overpriced "Mexican" fast-food chain owned by McDonald's).

It was cheering to watch the line of construction workers form in front of the taco truck, while fifty feet away behind their big glass windows the Chipotle's employees stood around uncomfortably in their empty restaurant.

Street food rocks. It should be encouraged.

And I'll happily send the UK a taco truck if they'll send the southeastern US some decent Indian food.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:47 AM on July 16, 2007


It's getting downright Biblical here in Louisiana.
posted by ColdChef at 11:52 AM on July 16, 2007


Careful of street food in Asia. It may be tasty but there is good chance your eating "mystery" meat, cardboard, or sawdust. Or all three. No shit. In China particularly.

Maybe so and maybe not. I don't know because I haven't spent much time in China and wouldn't say anything for or against until I've had a chance to go and sample the stuff.

But this is an horrific slander as it pertains to Southeast Asian street food. The street food in Lao, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia (the only places I can vouch for) is, as a rule, of superior quality and freshness.
posted by kosem at 12:10 PM on July 16, 2007


Yeah, let's have a regional food trade. We've got nearly everything covered here in CA, but cajun/creole is definitely a notable exception.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:12 PM on July 16, 2007


Britain is the tex-mex leader of northern europe, even if it's still not great.

Given that I lived in the UK ten years ago, I have no idea what the state of things is now with Tex-Mex. But it was a struggle just making it at home. Moldy tortillas, spice mixes where the UK "hot" cooresponded to the US "extra extra mild," and no American sour cream. At least ground beef, post-CJD scare, was dirt cheap.

I heard rumors of a London Tex-Mex restaurant, but I never found it.

BTW, making a pecan pie was even worse. Couldn't find corn syrup or maple syrup and spent nearly 20 quid on the pecans alone.
posted by dw at 12:12 PM on July 16, 2007


This brings me to my point, the real concern, the real reason that cities tend to discourage street food is that they don't want people meeting in public and wanting slightly better public services

You're over-thinking this. Never assume conspiracy when fear and ignorance will explain something. Remember that the decision-makers in situations like this are the same people who have driven grocers to carry rubbery & plastic fruit and veggies that value unmarred surfaces over taste.

They prefer appearance over reality and with the trucks lacking the polished appearance of their local Starbucks they are certain to their core that they must be dirty and disease-filled in a way their retail stores are not.
posted by phearlez at 12:14 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bullshit! Change the headline. It happened in Jefferson Parish, the suburbs of New Orleans/Orleans Parish.
posted by raysmj at 12:15 PM on July 16, 2007


Seattle has a severe lack of street food. Even ice cream trucks have nearly vanished. The best you can do is the Pike Place Market, but even then it's just fruit and veg from the vendors or Piroshky Piroshky.
posted by dw at 12:20 PM on July 16, 2007


To be fair, the insanely ignorant quote re gumbo came from New Orleans councilman Oliver Thomas (who will not get my vote when he runs for mayor, which he almost certainly will when the next opportunity comes, based on that quote alone). However, Mayor Nagin has signaled that he would not support such a ban. Good on him! He's screwed up so much in the past year, but he's right this time. So ... those going on about how New Orleans' lack of a ban has everything to do with its crime rate are wrong. A lack of political support is at work here. And Jefferson's had more murders this month than NOLA anyway.
posted by raysmj at 12:27 PM on July 16, 2007


ya know, this kind of tirade is best for one's own blog. please save the opinion for "more inside"

I do agree with this editorial comment, regardless of where it appeared or who authored it. If the tacos have a lasting effect on New Orleans' culinary history, it's nothing more than another ripple in the evolution of the regional folk culture. You can't preserve a society and its traditions in amber; traditions are lived, and regional culture is defined by the daily realities of life in the region. I doubt that crawdads and gumbo are really going to be in any long-term danger, but in any case, New Orleans cuisine is a global culinary fusion already. This can't hurt and in fact may further enrich an already astounding panoply of flavors.
posted by Miko at 12:31 PM on July 16, 2007


"Flores para los muertos....Corones para los muertos....": A Streetcar Named Desire. Given that NOLA was a Spanish colony; (now)Mexicans have been there all along.


Slight derail--there's a good Mexican (owned and run by)place in Berlin.
posted by brujita at 12:37 PM on July 16, 2007


The best you can do is the Pike Place Market, but even then it's just fruit and veg from the vendors or Piroshky Piroshky.

Pumpkin Cookies from Cinnamon Works must be mentioned in any discussion of Pike Place Market eating.
posted by uri at 12:41 PM on July 16, 2007


AV, as much as the idea of a culinary exchange may seem appealing, I'm afraid that for some reason, no matter who is preparing it, creole food gets exponentially worse the further you get from New Orleans, just as cajun food gets worse the further you are from Lafayette, the Roast Beef Po Boy gets worse the further you are from Parasol's on 3rd and Constance, and sunlight gets much dimmer the further you are in space.

Some friends in North Carolina thought it would be cute to take me to an authentic New Orleans restaurant on my last visit. It was godawful, and the tacky "Bourbon Street" signs on the wall didn't help.

And if they tried to ban the taco trucks in New Orleans, it would ultimately fail, because I will let the tamale guy on Elysian Fields set up shop on my front porch.
posted by gordie at 12:46 PM on July 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


the Roast Beef Po Boy gets worse the further you are from Parasol's on 3rd and Constance, and sunlight gets much dimmer the further you are in space.

I wish you could "favorite" something more than once.
posted by ColdChef at 12:51 PM on July 16, 2007


no matter who is preparing it

aw, gordie, yer hurting my feelings! I make a killer étouffée. Really. For a girl who's only been to the south once... but you probably meant restaurants, and they're chicken about making things spicy, right? It is wrong to add okra just because I like it? Oh well, I like it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:09 PM on July 16, 2007



Maybe so and maybe not. I don't know because I haven't spent much time in China...


Definitely so.
posted by tkchrist at 1:12 PM on July 16, 2007


It does surprise me to see people say that the taco trucks have better food than some of the restaurants.

But they totally do, sometimes. This article about taco trucks that ran in the Houston Press a few months back is a really fun read. Quick sample, emphasis mine:
Since few of my dining companions like sweetbreads and tripe, I took a French friend of mine, an artist named Bernard Brunon, to Taqueria Tacambaro. He was utterly amazed. And then he started taking other Frenchmen and visitors from France to eat tripe tacos there. Now photos of Taqueria Tacambaro are turning up in French art publications. I predict this taco trailer will someday be listed in French travel guides.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 1:19 PM on July 16, 2007


In Brooklyn -- Save Soccer Tacos
posted by eddydamascene at 1:24 PM on July 16, 2007


aw, gordie, yer hurting my feelings!

Hey, I don't make the rules. I just had to work around them by living here. Regarding okra, according to my worldview, it is never wrong to add okra. To anything. Especially if that anything is a bloody mary. Anyone who has told you otherwise is probably some sinister californian liar.

I wish you could "favorite" something more than once.

Screw favorites. Hop on I-10 and come on over. First round of Abita is on me.

Now I'm going to cut out of work and see if they've come with an okra taco yet.
posted by gordie at 1:41 PM on July 16, 2007


...or rather, come up with an okra taco. I love my food, but not that much.
posted by gordie at 1:45 PM on July 16, 2007


On the European Mexican food derail, I once ordered something they called a "burrito" in a "Mexican" restaurant in Kutna Hora, a town about an hour out of Prague. The thing they brought out was so humorous that I ordered the "taco", too, which turned out to be completely indistinguishable from the burrito.
posted by gurple at 1:47 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sedlec Ossuary is pretty rocking though.
posted by Artw at 1:57 PM on July 16, 2007


gordie: the word you're looking for is nopalitos! Closest thing to okra I've ever had and a tasty taco filling indeed.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:00 PM on July 16, 2007


I am against illegal immigrants (and catering to them).

I am very much for capitalism, however.

Solution to this conundrum: just hav INS stake out all the taco trucks, and start rounding up the illegals. If the taco trucks manage to stay in business after that, then they should be allowed to continue. Otherwise, the "problem" will have been solved.

TA-DAAAA!
posted by tadellin at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


All's I know is I love New Orleans , and I like tacos so I have no complaints. One thing is for sure tacos won't stop me from eating all the good local food when I'm down. I want some shrimp remoulade over fried green tomatoes, you know what I mean.
posted by nola at 2:18 PM on July 16, 2007


Toronto is actively looking for better street food. Taco truck people, please keep drivin' to Canada. With global warming, it will be just like home in 5 years.
posted by GuyZero at 2:40 PM on July 16, 2007


i seriously don't get how a nation built on the backs of immigrants is so god damned xenophobic these days.

short memory, i guess.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 2:42 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I used to work in West Oakland, near the POrt of Oakland. Every day a taco truck and a sandwich truck would pull up; there was usually a small line for the sandwich truck and much, much longer line for the taco truck, with Latino guys in paint-stained coveralls and truckers and workers from the port (and us, from a nearby warehouse-turned-office space). Fantastic, fantastic tacos (and burritos, and tortas). I would give almost anything to have that taco truck - or any taco truck - come to my Peninsula-middle-of-nowhere-office-park.

Please, Jefferson Parish, send me your taco trucks!
posted by rtha at 2:49 PM on July 16, 2007


Craziness. Mexican immigrants are our only hope for re-building and re-inhabiting New Orleans, because the US government obviously doesn't give a flying fuck about the place. Stuff like this is just obvious racism.
posted by bardic at 2:51 PM on July 16, 2007


Mmmm... tacos. They help me forget what actually happened in New Orleans: the Bush administration - with the assistance of the Dems and the media - moved the original residents out and allowed crooked employers to move IllegalAliens from Mexico in, with in some cases underage workers working in very unsafe conditions. They did the jobs - and worked in the unsafe conditions - that Americans won't do.

Meanwhile, the taxpayers were screwed triple: they paid for the warehousing of former NO residents, they paid for exorbitant nobid contracts, and they paid for the social costs of continuing keeping NO's former residents on the public dole.

I'm having a bit of trouble telling the difference between "liberals" and crooked Bush supporters; perhaps people could provide a clue as to which they are.
posted by LonewackoDotCom at 3:01 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I want to thank all the people who were able to warehouse me when I evacuated.
posted by gordie at 3:04 PM on July 16, 2007


More on the Salinas taco truck ban.

I don't see the logic of banning taco trucks in order to promote commercial diversity - taco trucks offer a different service than a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and if people didn't want tacos, then they wouldn't buy them. How many cities ban Starbucks and Wal-Mart in order to protect their own local businesses? I know that some do, de facto or de jure, and I'm not entirely opposed to the practice - I realize it's just a subset of what zoning laws do, and I've never been to Salinas anyhow - but something about capping the taco trucks sits unwell with me.

In a more perfect world, the restaurants would simply adapt to providing what customers actually want, but then again, a lot of things would be different in a more perfect world.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:20 PM on July 16, 2007


ColdChef, tell your local politicians we'll trade 5 of our high-priced nouveau Cal-pan-Asian fusion organic/sustainable/biodynamic restaurants in SF for one of your taco trucks. I'm not saying SF doesn't have good Mexican food but we definitely have 5X too many of the former.
posted by junesix at 4:26 PM on July 16, 2007


this is just one example of the taco lifestyle under attack.
posted by cell divide at 4:43 PM on July 16, 2007


tadellin, you serve as a perfect example of the ignorant line of thinking that pervades most of the current debate about illegal immigrants. You're telling me that INS is going to be able to round up illegals just by staking out taco trucks? Pray tell, how do you think they'll be able to tell the illegal immigrants apart from everyone else? By the color of their skin? News flash: "Mexican" does not equal "illegal alien." Hispanics have the same right to be free from harassment by federal agents as white people, black people, or any other race of people do. Do you really want a "your papers please" type of nation just because we have illegal immigrants? Could you prove your citizenship on the spot if you were stopped by a federal agent while out minding your own business?

I'll agree that illegal immigration is a problem, but those who want to turn this nation into an authoritarian monster aimed at brown people really sicken me.
posted by azpenguin at 7:59 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk is an ignoramus.
He/She wrote: [Chipotle is] an overpriced "Mexican" fast-food chain owned by McDonald's [sic]"
Wrong.
posted by davebarnes at 8:09 PM on July 16, 2007


This is the worst news I have heard in weeks.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:23 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk is an ignoramus.
He/She wrote: [Chipotle is] an overpriced "Mexican" fast-food chain owned by McDonald's [sic]"
Wrong.


Geez - have a taco or two, maybe a nice Jarritos, and chill. Not wrong - just outdated: McD's owned a majority stake until October 2006.

I've never eaten there, so I can't speak to their prices or quality. They don't seem to have tacos anyway.
posted by rtha at 9:20 PM on July 16, 2007


There are 31 taco trucks in Salinas and probably fewer brick-and-mortar Mexican restaurant than that, and possibly fewer non-fast food restaurants than that as well. I've certainly been there, and it's a very dismal place, imo. Driving through California and marvelling at all the beautiful produce - wine, nuts, berries, artichokes, avocados, citrus, plums, one finds this town clinging to the center of the state like an inverted oasis of cement and manteca.

I'm no expert on city planning, but I know from sharing an NPR station with them that there are some pretty fraught development issues surrounding the schism between Salinas and Monterey's different lifestyles. Salinas is the most populous city in Monterey County, but Pebble Beach dominates the political scene. It's not as simple as taco trucks catering to a different clientele, it's that it's specifically the poorest segment of the clientele which makes them predominant and popular, and Salinas has high numbers of those people; residents who live at or below poverty and send money home as well.

From a good MercNews article on the subject: "It's about the revitalization of Salinas, and they simply don't want Mexican taco trucks messing up their image."

Attempting to make room in Salinas for a fraction as much gentrification as its neighboring towns is a tall order, but the poverty and crime there now make the idea a little appealing. I like the linked article's spin on first vs. second or third generation immigrants. Immigration history can also likely be graphed to match health outcomes around here too. Childhood obesity is an unusually widespread problem in that area.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:46 PM on July 16, 2007


Yea, this is a nation of laws! Fear Him, taco trucks, and feel the machinations of His Noodly Appendage!
posted by slimbob at 10:34 PM on July 16, 2007


Careful of street food in Asia. It may be tasty but there is good chance your eating "mystery" meat, cardboard, or sawdust. Or all three. No shit. In China particularly.
posted by tkchrist



Er.. what the hell are you talking about? Sounds like a completely gross assertion. Cardboard, sawdust?? Doesn't sound like street food to me. In the China street food scene, I mostly see roast meat and vegetables that would be difficult to adulterate. Maybe there are problems in quick-service restaurants or convenience store snacks, but don't go casting aspersions on my friendly neighborhood mulslim mutton-skewer salesman. At least, not without some backup.
posted by bluejayk at 11:50 PM on July 16, 2007


i wish somebody would bring taco trucks to the uk ... then go to Barburrito 1 piccadilly gardens manchester uk the food is authentic mexican food
posted by baker dave at 1:30 AM on July 17, 2007


Taco trucks are great; we have them on practically every corner near my house. But what you all really need to experience is the Sonoran style hot dog that we've been able to get in the Mexican neighborhoods here in Tucson. Before they grill the dog, they wrap it in bacon. Then it's served on a pillow-soft bun with grilled onions, mayo, beans, chopped tomatoes, and jalapeno. es, it's awful for you. But it's oh-so-good.
posted by azpenguin at 1:45 AM on July 17, 2007


LoneWacko.Com--

The liberals are the ones who think that's completely screwed up. The crooked Bush supporters are the ones who've apparently continue to fool even you into this alternate reality view of liberals as evil people who hate, you know, fiscal responsibility and good governance.

Check the numbers. Who balances the budgets? That's right, we do. We call it a "lockbox", they call it a "cookie jar". It's really quite simple.
posted by effugas at 1:46 AM on July 17, 2007


You guys suck. Now I'm craving some good tacos myself. And I'm stuck in suburban Singapore, with its overpriced Mexican restaurants, and its margaritas.

Hmmmm.
posted by the cydonian at 1:55 AM on July 17, 2007


Like I said before...Here in DC...some of the hot dog vendors sell their wares in a one man contraption. There is no room for a bathroom and they are no where near a bathroom....but they do have an large empty can that used to house 'Chockful of Nuts'. Surprise! It's the secret sauce!
Not!
posted by doctorschlock at 8:54 AM on July 17, 2007


ColdChef, tell your wife I said thank you, from one native WestBanker to another. And thank you for the post - my husband and I will grieve the loss of delicious Mexican food. We were just talking about how much better the selection had gotten all over New Orleans, including the taco truck down the street from my my office as I type this. For what it's worth, my fairly new Latin neighbors are also friendlier than the previous neighbors. I don't see any valid reason to force anyone to leave, especially when they're providing the help that we need so much now.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 8:59 AM on July 17, 2007


azpenguin: I know what you mean. Also, taco trucks along with roving tamale ladies and ice cream vendors are one of the many other reasons I love SF's Mission district.
posted by vacapinta at 9:29 AM on July 17, 2007


Er.. what the hell are you talking about? Sounds like a completely gross assertion. Cardboard, sawdust??

bluejayk. Do you know how to click? Good. You might wanna do that first there, Sparky.

"BEIJING - Chopped cardboard, softened with an industrial chemical and made tasty with pork flavoring, is a main ingredient in batches of steamed buns sold in one Beijing neighborhood, state television said..."
posted by tkchrist at 10:24 AM on July 17, 2007


I wish somebody would bring taco trucks to the UK. Or any kind of authentic and edible Mexican or Tex-Mex food.

When I was living in London in 76, I had my mom mail me a care package (from California) with Taco shells and seasonings-- I never realized I was so addicted until I had to do without.

Sad you guys still don't have a source for tasty Tex-Mex-Cali.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:15 AM on July 18, 2007


TV report on cardboard buns 'fabricated'
posted by twisted mister at 12:08 AM on July 19, 2007


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