“[U]n sandwich diététiquement incorrect.”
April 17, 2021 10:22 PM   Subscribe

“[T]hrough some mistranslation or misapprehension of its Mexican namesake, the French tacos is always plural, even when there’s only one, pronounced with a voiced ‘S.’ … [A] flour tortilla, slathered with condiments, piled with meat (usually halal) and other things (usually French fries), doused in cheese sauce, folded into a rectangular packet, and then toasted on a grill.”
In The New Yorker, Lauren Collins tells a complicated story of “France’s own junk food”: “The Unlikely Rise of the French Tacos”
Still hungry? Try the documentary Tacos Origins: Phénomène; Révolution; Génération
Want to see them in action? See this French YouTuber eat two five pound gigatacos from O’Tacos.
Previously, in 2019
posted by Going To Maine (83 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
(Sorry for the long block of text above the fold. I want to eat the heck out of this right dang now.)
posted by Going To Maine at 10:26 PM on April 17, 2021 [2 favorites]


Yep, I'm hungry now. C'est bon!
posted by Windopaene at 10:36 PM on April 17, 2021


Sounds kinda like a poutine wrap to me. Whatever. This atrocity, monstrosity, or work of pure street-food genius is on my bucket list.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:36 PM on April 17, 2021 [7 favorites]


I’ve always felt « French tacos » is best understood as a second generation immigrant street food : kebabs are too « Arab » for a significant part of the population, and well, too restricting as a concept for people who actually grew up here - they might as well invent their own thing.
posted by motdiem2 at 10:57 PM on April 17, 2021 [10 favorites]


Oh, god, I want one right now.
posted by tavella at 12:58 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


Les Mmmmm x 10^9

Gigatacos
posted by lalochezia at 2:30 AM on April 18, 2021


I'm somewhat hungover this morning, and oh god do I want these "tacos" now. Whatever I do end up having for breakfast will be very disappointing by comparison. Thanks!
posted by Dysk at 2:45 AM on April 18, 2021 [5 favorites]


Thos all looks delicious but I feel like there’s a strong resemblance to the long-standing inebriate’s staple Halifax Donair that is going unacknowledged..
posted by mhoye at 3:55 AM on April 18, 2021 [4 favorites]


> kebabs are too « Arab » for a significant part of the population

That's hilarious given that Döner Kebab is totally a Turkish/Turkish-German thing AFAIK, but yeah, it tracks...

Anyway, this explains so much! I've been wondering about these pictures of weird package-shaped "Tacos" every time I'm in Lausanne... I never tried one because the same places tend to make really awesome kebabs, which is one of the things I miss most in the US.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 4:08 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


This is hilarious!
I'm not sure I ever can eat one, because of a ton of allergies, but I'd love to try.
Anyway, it is also a challenge to the concept of authenticity within food. Personally, I think it is of great value to be aware of the "authentic" recipe for a food, while recognizing that it is a snapshot in time. And oftentimes, the original recipes of our great-great-grandparents can be a source of inspiration.
On the other hand, cross-cultural inspiration can lead to really good foods. First on my mind is how Vietnamese food found inspiration in French food. It's ok to hate the politics and love the food. Or how the Portuguese brought piri-piri from their colonies back to Europe. Or how salt cod from the northern regions of Europe became staples in the south. Or how Chinese-American and Italian-American food developed.
To be honest, if I had only tasted tex-mex food, I would have a bad impression of Mexican food, so in my view, that is not a good example.
But all great cuisines are literally mashups of what came before with what arrived from outside. Even the French acknowledge that French cuisine was born when Catherine of Medici arrived in France with her Italian cooks.
posted by mumimor at 4:31 AM on April 18, 2021 [5 favorites]


In Paris, right on Boulevard De Montparnasse, just down from La Brasserie La Coupole, there was a restaurant whose awning sign advertised "AUTHENTIC MEXICAN CUISINE FROM INDIANA".
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:57 AM on April 18, 2021 [10 favorites]


I wonder how the French would feel about Mexican Champagne.
posted by Jode at 5:01 AM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


There's a fish & chip place in town that does a chip wrap - a giant flatbread with chips and cheese, wrapped up really tight and wrapped in foil. The cheese melts, the chips are huge, and it's so good - I haven't been into the centre of town since, like, September, and I miss it.

But now, man, I need me some French Tacos.

(Randomly, I'm also glad that they point out that the Californian Burrito is a San Diego creation, because so many people said to me "But you're Southern Californian, surely you know about this," and I'm constantly going "oh my god who puts French fries in a burrito are you insane what is this???" and now I can be "Yeah, that's a San Diego thing. Lemme tell you about my local Mexican place...")
posted by Katemonkey at 5:23 AM on April 18, 2021 [4 favorites]


One of the worst meals I ever had was at a "Mexican" restaurant in Scotland. There were many things wing but there worst was that they were sweet, tasting of commercial BBQ sauce rather than spices.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:38 AM on April 18, 2021 [4 favorites]


One of the things I miss about working in the office is the French Tacos truck. Exactly the kind of rich but not heavy comfort food you need on a taxing workday, plus the Algerian guy running it was lovely.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 5:39 AM on April 18, 2021


I wonder how the French would feel about Mexican Champagne.

Gotta hit the Paris streets to remind everyone that it's not a real Tacos if it doesn't come from the Tacos Belle region of Mexico and that actually what you're eating is a Sparkling Donair and get myself immediately murdered.
posted by mhoye at 5:40 AM on April 18, 2021 [30 favorites]


"folded into a rectangle, and then toasted on a grill"

So, it's a Taco Bell Crunchwrap, then.
posted by hippybear at 5:57 AM on April 18, 2021 [10 favorites]


> Or how Chinese-American and Italian-American food developed.

One of the things that shouldn't have been mind-blowing for me but was anyway was when I was in Seoul and had Chinese-Korean food for the first time. The food was delicious but also my lesson learned that *every* culture, when given the right opportunity, will adapt *every* other culture's foods.
posted by ardgedee at 6:04 AM on April 18, 2021 [10 favorites]


So, it's a Taco Bell Crunchwrap, then

No. Taco Bell crunch wraps don't have french fries inside.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:39 AM on April 18, 2021


The New Yorker article is quite good, and hits upon some subjects that we're recapitulating here.

I wonder how the French would feel about Mexican Champagne.
Ahumada noted that both Mexican and French cuisine were designated an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” by UNESCO in the same year. “What shocks me is that they call it a ‘taco,’ ” she said. “It’s like if we made a wine and started calling it ‘Mexican champagne.’ ”
In Paris, right on Boulevard De Montparnasse, just down from La Brasserie La Coupole, there was a restaurant whose awning sign advertised "AUTHENTIC MEXICAN CUISINE FROM INDIANA".
The Indiana Café, for example, with more than twenty locations in Paris and its suburbs, bills itself as “a restaurant at the frontier of Mexican and American.” There, the menu includes—alongside fajitas and nachos—mozzarella sticks, bacon-loaded fries, fish-and-chips, and, for dessert, pain perdu (a.k.a. French toast).
posted by zamboni at 6:45 AM on April 18, 2021 [6 favorites]


The naming seems dubious, but I would totally eat this.

The documentary linked in the post is great, and the footage of the food itself is making me hungry.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:56 AM on April 18, 2021


> The Indiana Café, for example, with more than twenty locations in Paris and its suburbs, bills itself as “a restaurant at the frontier of Mexican and American.” There, the menu includes—alongside fajitas and nachos—mozzarella sticks, bacon-loaded fries, fish-and-chips...

This is consistent with my experience of Indiana Mexican food.
posted by ardgedee at 7:02 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


I am fortunate to have had this in Paris in 2018 and the name ‘tacos’ seems entirely incidental: they are custom burrito paninis, you can stuff them with anything you’ve ever heard of, and yes, do add them to your bucket list.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:04 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


So, it's a Taco Bell Crunchwrap, then

No. Taco Bell crunch wraps don't have french fries inside.


The breakfast crunchwraps have a fast food hash brown patty inside them... That's pretty close, really.
posted by hippybear at 7:08 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


Remind me not to go to hippybear’s fast food joint.
posted by zamboni at 7:21 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there's one quite near you, zamboni.
posted by hippybear at 7:26 AM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


I was expecting to see some sort of parallel taco evolution akin to tacos al pastor (a fusion of Mexican and Arab cuisine), and instead found… a disgrace…
posted by Omon Ra at 7:31 AM on April 18, 2021 [4 favorites]


I'm sure there's one quite near you

The Internet Recipe Comment Hut in the strip mall closed down- they ran out of things to substitute.
posted by zamboni at 7:33 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


If there are any entrepreneurial MeFites in the Augusta, GA area, I'll just link to the O'Tacos franchise page here. Just FYI.
posted by TedW at 7:40 AM on April 18, 2021


And if you find French tacos strange, here is an Indonesian/Dutch/German Taco.
posted by TedW at 7:43 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


a "Mexican" restaurant in Scotland

well, excuse us from being on the other side of the world and outside any reliable supply chain from Mexico. I'm sure the stovies in Guanajuato are just terrific.

These sound like yer bog-standard street souvlaki, stuffed with chips so you can eat it with one hand.
posted by scruss at 7:48 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


an Indonesian/Dutch/German Taco

Taco is a Dutch variant of Thaddeus.
posted by zamboni at 7:50 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


A friend from college sent me this article, and I responded that the French tacos reminded me of an Oki-Dog.

I have had an Oki-Dog. I'm still not sure about having a French tacos, only because I'm not a fan of cheese sauces.
posted by RakDaddy at 8:00 AM on April 18, 2021 [4 favorites]


well, excuse us from being on the other side of the world and outside any reliable supply chain from Mexico. I'm sure the stovies in Guanajuato are just terrific.

Tortillas are a huge economy-of-scale product. There were major supply issues in Chicago last year when El Milagro had to shut down one of their factories due to covid. The 12-pack of El Milagro corn tortillas is literally the top-selling individual item in many grocery stores in Chicago.

I had a friend from Mexico who emigrated to Sweden, and she lamented the absolute dearth of tortillas there. You could order them from specialty online stores, of course, but they wouldn't be very fresh, and they were expensive enough to not be a regular thing. An expensive tortilla felt like a contradiction in terms for her.

If enough demand happens in Europe to get factories tooled up, the availability might change, or might already be changing. Alas, not soon enough for my friend, who passed away tragically very young, two years ago just this week. May the gospel of tacos be spread in her name.
posted by notoriety public at 8:12 AM on April 18, 2021 [8 favorites]


The worst wrong version of other cultures' food that has ever existed was one of the first Sushi restaurants in Viña del Mar, Chile, in the early '00s, that had apparently once seen an illustration of a California Roll in a magazine, briefly, and decided to have a go.
Everything about it was wrong, especially the rice , which was the long grain parboiled kind, mixed with mayo so it would stick, and when we asked for soy sauce they excitedly asked "oh, you eat it with soy sauce????", and brought out some bad, locally produced soy sauce in a cup.
I assume we were their first customers, quite possibly the last as well.
posted by signal at 8:34 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


A few years ago we walked by a sign for these tacos in Nice, France. Only there for a night, and we were already on our way to dinner, so we didn't get any and still have regrets. But also, while this seems like a perfectly great street food, the idea of being in a seaside town and only being able to get one of these tacos as a taco seemed ludicrous. We then batted around the fantasy of opening a proper San Diego style fish taco place on the French riviera, and the alternative directions one could interpret "taco, but make it French" for weeks.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:34 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


What makes this not cultural appropration, or not the reproachable and offensive kind of cultural appropriation? Or is it?
posted by bracems at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


What makes this not cultural appropration, or not the reproachable and offensive kind of cultural appropriation? Or is it?

The New Yorker article also touches on this.
The French tacos is an emblem of suburban pride, but it is a source of chagrin for some Mexican restaurateurs in France, who see it as a form of cultural appropriation, even desecration. Mercedes Ahumada, a Metepec-born chef who owns an eponymous consulting and catering business in Paris, told me about one experience she had while running a taco cart at a food fair. “I had a customer who threw his order in the trash, saying it wasn’t a taco,” she recalled. Ahumada noted that both Mexican and French cuisine were designated an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” by UNESCO in the same year. “What shocks me is that they call it a ‘taco,’ ” she said. “It’s like if we made a wine and started calling it ‘Mexican champagne.’ ”

Counting generously, the French tacos contains two of three elements commonly held to make an authentic taco (nixtamalized corn tortilla, filling, sauce), drizzling bewilderment onto a base of insult. “I find a lack of respect for our traditions,” Luis Segura, the proprietor of Maria Juana Tacos, in Paris, said. “It should appall the French, too. I’m thinking about all the foreigners who come to France to discover the cheese, the macaron, and instead find the French tacos.”

The culinary traditions of Mexico have already been misrepresented once over in France. What is widely understood to be Mexican food is most often closer to Tex-Mex: burritos, nachos, and chili con carne, associated with the American West, and, in many cases, with stereotypes of cowboys and Indians. The putative Mexican influence is often disfigured or devalued beyond recognition.

In recent years, devotees of the French tacos have split into camps, with tacos progressives accepting the dish’s evolution as a corporatized fast food, and tacos conservatives insisting that its true form can be found only in the small-time regional snacks. Amid the internal debate, larger questions of authenticity are overlooked or considered irrelevant—perhaps because being authentic was never the goal. Many French-tacos consumers know that the dish has no real relation to Mexican food. If cultural appropriation usually involves a dominant group profiting from a minority group’s cultural heritage, the case of the French tacos presents a complicated power dynamic: here, a minority group of French entrepreneurs of North African descent is profiting from the cultural heritage of an even more minoritarian group of Mexican restaurateurs who, in turn, see their counterparts as part of a monolithic France.
posted by zamboni at 8:46 AM on April 18, 2021 [9 favorites]


Counting generously, the French tacos contains two of three elements commonly held to make an authentic taco (nixtamalized corn tortilla, filling, sauce)

I wonder about making smaller, gluten-free versions of these with corn tortillas.
posted by doctornemo at 9:00 AM on April 18, 2021


There was a Mexican/Chinese restaurant near us called Wok O Taco. You could get chorizo fried rice, carne asada fries, orange chicken with Mexican rice, mango sesame chicken, etc. Some items weren't that great but some were pretty tasty. Unfortunately they were barely staying in business before the pandemic hit.
posted by Foosnark at 9:24 AM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


It's mildly amusing that the country that gave everyone the concept of A.O.C. all the way back in 1411 should do this kind of thing, but then again pretty much everyone everywhere goes for the "when you do it you're wrong when I do it I'm right" line of reasoning so it also isn't really surprising and maybe we'd all be better off if we just ditched the concept of "authenticity" when it comes to food.
posted by aramaic at 9:32 AM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


What makes this not cultural appropration, or not the reproachable and offensive kind of cultural appropriation?

A critical mass of people who care?

I'm always skeptical of cultural appropriation charges, particularly of the kind presented here. This sort of thing typically gets resolved by people becoming food snobs for authenticity.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


In terms of appropriation, how is this fundamentally different to, say, Hawaiian pizza? If anything, it's more honest about what it is (Hawaiian pizza being invented in Canada by a Greek immigrant, IIRC).
posted by Dysk at 10:03 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


When I read that article, I wondered how it was possible it hadn't hit Metafilter yet.

Speaking of Metafilter, thanks to you guys, I had a package of bucatini and wanted to use it well, so I decided to use it in a "pasta primavera". I imagined this as a traditional Italian dish using early spring Italian vegetables. But when I went online to find a recipe, I discovered that it was invented in the 1970s in Canada. So I don't think I made it less authentic by using bucatini, but I will advise you to use linguine.

As for French tacos, a couple of years ago I went around town sampling all the Salvadoran Chicken restaurants, which was a brilliant idea I do not regret. However, I decided to go to a Salvadoran restaurant that had been open for over 20 years, where I expected to find the Ur-Salvadoran chicken. I ordered it, and got a tortilla filled with a white sauce, chicken, and French fries. Although horrified, I ate it, and it was delicious. Is this convergent evolution, or does it all go back to Canada in the 1970s?
posted by acrasis at 10:11 AM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


The shame of the Indiana Café is that it probably doesn’t serve Walking Tacos, a product you could actually get in Indiana.

I think the point better point is that France isn’t great for its small Mexican subpopulation. The tacos -which for at least one of its inventors was intended as an homage to the taco- has become yet another tentacle of that as it has become mainstream. (Attempted homage becomes less flattering if the group to which homage is being paid exists and feels oppressed.)
posted by Going To Maine at 10:20 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


Yes, there aren't very many Mexicans in Europe. Part of my family is Mexican, and when they lived here (in Europe), many things were very strange to them. They were treated (often badly) as immigrants, but didn't fit in with any of the standard categories of immigrants here. And obviously they couldn't get basic foods, or even tools like a tortilla press or the right size mortar and pestle. Things are better now, this was twenty years ago.
posted by mumimor at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


This is wild. A few months ago my american brain had never heard of french tacos, then I moved to Paris in February and started seeing them everywhere. In the last couple weeks I've tried to get them 4 times, but due to pandemic lockdown and incorrect google maps hours each time has failed.

I've yet to try these tacos, and now suddenly I see them everywhere on the internet. This article here is taunting me with the tacos that are literally 100 meters from my apartment yet somehow still forbidden to me.
posted by cirrostratus at 10:39 AM on April 18, 2021 [11 favorites]


Also, I have learned that somehow Tex-Mex translates into French as chicken nuggets.

But you can get them inside a taco! So I guess that counts.
posted by cirrostratus at 10:44 AM on April 18, 2021


French Gyros?
posted by romanb at 11:10 AM on April 18, 2021


well, excuse us from being on the other side of the world and outside any reliable supply chain from Mexico
Oh come on. Lime, garlic, cumin, coriander, dried pepper. If you can't find those you can hardly cook anything worth eating.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2021


Looks good, and seems somewhat similar to shawarma in Palestine (gotta have it with the fries inside!).
posted by Ahmad Khani at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2021


French Gyros?

As the article mentions, snacks sold kebabs before the tacos. Gyro, doner kebab and shawarma are all part of the glorious international family of spit roasted meat in a flatbread sandwich. They all mean the same thing, etymologically:

The Turkish word döner comes from dönmek ("to turn" or "to rotate")
Shawarma is an Arabic rendering of Turkish çevirme [tʃeviɾˈme] 'turning'
[Gyro] comes from the Greek γύρος (gyros, 'circle' or 'turn')
posted by zamboni at 11:31 AM on April 18, 2021 [5 favorites]


Having moved from Texas to Montreal a few years ago it was funny and a bit mind-boggling to stumble across a French tacos place here, particularly when we were still grieving the loss of Tex-Mex. (What is this monstrosity? Where are the homemade tortillas and chips n' queso?)

Still, French tacos joints have been popping up all over, feels like just in the last six months, so I'm sure I'll try one at some point. It sounds like more meat than I typically want in my fast food but there's probably a Beyond version on the way somewhere.
posted by kittensyay at 11:36 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


See this French YouTuber eat two five pound gigatacos

WHAT THE FUCK!? WHAT IN THE SAMANTHA HILL EVEN IS THAT!?

AND WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY GETTING TORTILLAS THAT SIZE IN FRANCE!?

I mean yeah I would eat one but I was not expecting that giant mutant crunch wrap looking thing.

And damn you, now I want a legit Mission burrito. It's been so long.

Also, that french fries in a burrito "California Burrito" thing is just San Diego being weird and feeding super drunk UCSD students. It's not really a thing elsewhere in California. The rest of California doesn't talk about it and views San Diego with pity and concern about their weird burritos.
posted by loquacious at 11:54 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


It's mildly amusing that the country that gave everyone the concept of A.O.C. all the way back in 1411 should do this kind of thing, but then again pretty much everyone everywhere goes for the "when you do it you're wrong when I do it I'm right" line of reasoning so it also isn't really surprising and maybe we'd all be better off if we just ditched the concept of "authenticity" when it comes to food.

I suspect there's significant overlap between French nativist appellation d'origine contrôlée partisans, and people who are angry about tacos français being a thing.
posted by zamboni at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


Taco Time, a ubiquitous fast food chain in the Pacific NW, has been known to put tater tots in their burritos (not sure if there are any such burritos on the menu right now, but I've definitely seen them there at some point). I generally get food poisoning every time I go to Taco Time so I usually... don't, but I have to admit it makes some sense to put crunchy fried potatoes in a burrito-like food product.

+1 to both sentiments: that culinary authenticity as a concept is and always has been nonsense, and that the French of all people don't get to tell us that culinary authenticity as a concept is and always has been nonsense.
posted by potrzebie at 11:59 AM on April 18, 2021


Also, that french fries in a burrito "California Burrito" thing is just San Diego being weird and feeding super drunk UCSD students. It's not really a thing elsewhere in California. The rest of California doesn't talk about it and views San Diego with pity and concern about their weird burritos.

Native San Diegan, agree that the California Burrito is a bit odd, but pretty much all burritos in SD are different from elsewhere - they are generally austere in their contents, holding only what the menu says they hold, maybe plus guacamole or onions and cilantro. So, whereas a "carnitas burrito" in other places may get you something with rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese, at most places in San Diego it'll just have carnitas and guac, which I'd greatly prefer to the adulterated Chipotle-esque version junked up with a bunch of filler.

Also, I'm in SD right now, and while I'm not able to hit every taco shop in town while I'm here (despite trying), I have seen two separate instances of a "cheeto burrito". You've been warned.
posted by LionIndex at 12:26 PM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


stuffed with chips so you can eat it with one hand

Which has been a thing for some time? Particularly food truck sandwiches with merguez or something as the main event, with fries stuffed in there as well, turning the whole meal into one theoretically one-handed item.

Regarding Tex-Mex, I have a photo around here of a food truck at one of the festivals in Nîmes a few years ago, with big signage offering SANDWICHS TEX-MEX, and extra decorations of cowboys and saguaro cactuses. What was on the menu? Kebab, of course. I entertain (or taunt) my Texas contacts with the story from time to time.
posted by gimonca at 12:36 PM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


that culinary authenticity as a concept is and always has been nonsense

I mainly entirely agree with this but there's also a lot to be said for the value of culinary authenticity as long as you're not weaponizing it.

In French cooking in particular there's a useful, storied historic base that's led to a lot of other cooking styles that are now considered "authentic" like Creole and Cajun food, but to do that at a high level also often starts with the fundamentals and mother sauces of French cooking.

With Mexican food - or even Cali-mex or Tex-mex) in particular it's also really hard to do well without access to the markets, recipes and supply chains available as well as the local recipes, whether they are family or institutional.

i can't even remember the last time I saw a tomatillo. I haven't had any seriously, insanely good salsa rojo or verde done right since the last time I was in California, where one can visit any number of dozens and hundreds of sincerely working class taco trucks primarily owned and operated by families, and each one may have it's own variation of family recipes for things, especially salsas - and yet they're all done right as far as satisfaction and experience is concerned.

I will say that Taco Time's salsa bar isn't entirely terrible, and their fish tacos are really close to a baja style fish taco with the breaded fried fish, cabbage shreds and so on. It's close enough to that it doesn't make me immediately long for the real thing or become irritated by openly mocking the concept of a Baja style fish taco.

Tangenting away from authenticity - I recently had a taco like object from a really good sushi place. They were super cute, tiny little American style crunchy corn taco shells perfectly stuffed with ahi chunks and glazed in some kind of sweet-spicy sauce, presented as a small nigiri style bite.

It could be culturally dissected as a rather bewildering mix of Japanese, Hawaiian (poke) and midwestern style American-Mexican with the crunchy corn taco shells and sweet-spicy "salsa".

It's the sort of thing I might mock as a terrible idea on paper especially with that damn crunchy taco shell, but it was REALLY good and I keep thinking about it and it was super unexpected from this particular sushi and noodle place.
posted by loquacious at 12:42 PM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


loquacious: "Also, that french fries in a burrito "California Burrito" thing is just San Diego being weird and feeding super drunk UCSD students. It's not really a thing elsewhere in California. The rest of California doesn't talk about it and views San Diego with pity and concern about their weird burritos."

The funny thing is this thread is where I learned this was a San Diego thing, as it is my favorite thing to get at Garaje in San Francisco. They call it a Surfer Leo Zapato, though, not a California Burrito. But fish and chips in a grilled burrito? Yes, please.
posted by team lowkey at 12:50 PM on April 18, 2021


It's interesting that the name is tacos, sort of like tamal became tamales in English.
The most intriguing part of this story is the mysterious Gruyère sauce. Does anyone have a guess at a recipe?
Is Algerian condiment sauce really from Algeria or is it a European thing?
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:50 PM on April 18, 2021


I live in a city with O'Tacos and had one for lunch today on foot of this post. While satisfyingly stodgy it did not reach the glorious heights of Ireland's finest contribution to fusion fast food the curry, cheesy chip.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:01 PM on April 18, 2021


How do both compare with poutine?
posted by Going To Maine at 1:04 PM on April 18, 2021


I have french fries, some (nacho) cheese sauce, and while I'm vegetarian, I do have frozen fake chicken nuggets. The tortillas I have aren't very big so I don't know how far I'd get with trying to recreate one of these properly but I do kind of love it.

I'm a fan of putting carbs in carbs.
posted by edencosmic at 1:09 PM on April 18, 2021


I'll note, too that Taco Bell has made a business strategy of creating monstrosities like this for years. They're currently promoting a $1 Beefy Potato-Rito that's just a skip and a jump from the "French taco" concept.
posted by gimonca at 1:10 PM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think this goes beyond Taco Bell. A huge number of “new street food” places around here seem mostly about sending existing things together and seeing what sticks. Sushiritos, Indian burritos, Indian pizza, Korean taco burgers sisig burritos... if it exists, they’ll do it. The most famous baked good of the millennium so far is surely the Cronut. Fusing tasty things together is I think a much more established tradition than we take it for.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:22 PM on April 18, 2021


How do both compare with poutine?

Unfortunately I have not yet had the pleasure but I've added it to the list.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:41 PM on April 18, 2021


I know the Lebanese Basha restaurant across the street from the Montreal Courthouse will, if you ask very nicely and they're not really busy, throw together some of their excellent shawarma and poutine so you can wrap it up together. Everywhere has their creative junk food, and I can't wait to travel again to have more of it.
posted by salsamander at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2021


>mysterious Gruyère sauce. Does anyone have a guess at a recipe?
It would be a Mornay.
posted by bitslayer at 3:35 PM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


When the guy puts gruyère on your fresh hot döner...
That's a mornay!
posted by gimonca at 4:05 PM on April 18, 2021 [14 favorites]


I love tacos. I love poutine. I love potato burritos. Cheesy fries on a taco is an incredibly strange idea. I expect to eat exactly one of them, now that I know they exist. Cheers!

I'm totally on board with most arguments about cultural appropriation in commercial cuisine. But, if al pastor can be a taco and fish and onions can be a taco and nopales and peppers can be a taco and the stuff they sell at 7-Elevens in Mexico can be a taco. . . I think I have to argue that the name is appropriate. (I'm happy to entertain the idea that it may not be a particularly good taco.)
posted by eotvos at 4:43 PM on April 18, 2021


Tacos
posted by Going To Maine at 4:45 PM on April 18, 2021


These are not my thing, but I'd be happy to try some Mexican Champagne.
posted by freakazoid at 7:03 PM on April 18, 2021


I'd like to enter into the record a permanent, well intentioned, slightly outdated yet stern "nah, fam" to any previous or future mentions of taco bell in this or any other thread.
posted by signal at 7:24 PM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


I assume the singular form of "tacos" is from the singular "gyros". As someone who will happily make and eat a burrito with canned chili, cheese, and tater tot filling, this sounds like something I'd like to try.
posted by hades at 8:31 PM on April 18, 2021


The main difference between Taco Bell and French Tacos is that the French Tacos are filled with food and Taco Bell is an amalgamation of commodities. A focus group didn’t figure into the development of the French Taco. What I’m saying is Taco Bell is crap.
posted by misterpatrick at 9:12 PM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


David Bowles says the word "taco" came to Spanish via Old French.

He explains further Classical Nahuatl the word for "taco" was "tlaxcalmimilli", and for tortilla it was "tlaxcalli". He also states that flour tortillas are not indigenous to Mesoamerica, but came into mestizo culture from Arabic culture in Spain.

Where does this leave French tacos that claim to be inspired by the Mexican taco? I'd still listen to Mexicans given the history of tacos in Mexico.
posted by Mister Cheese at 10:53 PM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


cirrostratus have you tried Uber Eats?

Sadly I am the killer combo of gluten and dairy free so have not sampled these, I have been repeatedly tempted, but the dairy free part is the most important, and they are just not the same without cheese!
posted by ellieBOA at 12:04 AM on April 19, 2021


ellieBOA, yeah I'm rapidly learning that delivery services are the only reliable way to get a specific foods. I just figured that the one hour after restaurants have reopened for dinner but before the curfew would be fine to get takeout, but it looks like that hour belongs to uber eats.
posted by cirrostratus at 1:02 AM on April 19, 2021 [1 favorite]


I see a socca tacos in my future.
posted by namret at 1:26 PM on April 19, 2021


He explains further Classical Nahuatl the word for "taco" was "tlaxcalmimilli", and for tortilla it was "tlaxcalli". He also states that flour tortillas are not indigenous to Mesoamerica, but came into mestizo culture from Arabic culture in Spain.
I don't really know anything about this, but my spouse is an expert. Not on tacos, specifically, but she speaks classical Nahuatl better than most people who teach it, has read most of the near-contact original sources in detail, and has written hundreds of pages about corn grinding implements (in a sliglty different mesoamerican region.)

Her summary: tacos are absolutely a post-contact thing; both in the word and the concept, they were'nt a thing before the conquest. Toritillas, tomales, and other stuff served on heated masa are much older and have old names. But, not tacos. (Thanks! I learned something new today.)
posted by eotvos at 5:05 PM on April 19, 2021 [6 favorites]


That's really cool, eotvos! Has your spouse published any of her writing? Titles of the work is fine if ya'll don't want to share any personal info. Especially interested in tacos as a concept being post-contact; my father and father-in-law use tortillas as eating utensils, breaking off bits and scooping up food with a deftness I never learned. I'm not sure if that aspect of tortilla use is on the radar of US majority culture.

I became more interested in this stuff fairly recently after hearing my abuela discuss some of her early life grinding corn on a metate to make tortillas daily. She doesn't do that anymore up here in the US, but she still makes tamales by hand for celebrations. I'm personally trying to learn Classical Nahuatl myself because there's so much written in it and I want to read it!

I did want to add about the original topic of French tacos: I don't really judge people for their preferences, but I do frown at people that trash good food because they expected something else. That experience of Mercedes Ahumada's quoted upthread upsets me.
posted by Mister Cheese at 8:31 PM on April 19, 2021


Has your spouse published any of her writing? Titles of the work is fine if ya'll don't want to share any personal info.
I . . . may have oversold her expertise. She's written extensively about the artwork on metates in southern regions and lots of stuff in the codices from central Mexico that include food, but nothing specifically about food itself or its preparation that would be useful here. I'm happy to ask her who to read, though. I'm sure she has strong opinions.

The other bit I didn't mention is that there's a possibly apocryphal story that the word for taco comes from a description of the way that people used to wrap gunpowder when using it in mining. Presumably before nitroglycerin, which is mid-1800s, or at least its availability in rural northern Mexico. I have no idea if this is true, but it's interesting.

(If you're keen to learn Nahuatl, either classical or contemporary Huastecan, there are annual, few-week summer and winter schools that might be fun. At the moment the ones I know about are hosted by IDIEZ in Zacatecas and in the US by the University of Utah CLAS program. It's not free, and it's mostly young college students, but they're very welcoming to other people who aren't otherwise students. I've met some of the teachers and they seem really dedicated and thoughtful.)
posted by eotvos at 8:18 AM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]


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