Five reasons why taco trucks are America’s salvation

Five reasons why taco trucks are America’s salvation September 3, 2016
Tacorriendo Lopez #1 on Hillsborough Rd and 15-501 in Durham, NC
Tacorriendo Lopez #1 on Hillsborough Rd and 15-501 in Durham, NC, circa 2008

When Donald Trump’s surrogate infamously declared that there will soon be #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner unless somebody stops the Mexicans, the internet rightly rejoiced. There are very few ways in which I’ve ever been ahead of the hipster curve, but taco trucks are one of them. I’ve been eating from taco trucks since 2008 because it was the family enterprise of a family that I met at the first church where I served in seminary. In fact, I believe that the Lopez family of Durham, NC ought to be credited with inventing the taco truck. After the success of their own family business in the early 2000’s, they started designing taco trucks for other families. I think they made a few thousand of them and spread them around the entire nation until it became “a thing.” I don’t know. I wasn’t counting. But all of a sudden, I started seeing them everywhere.

So if we’re going to have #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner, there’s going to need to be some ground rules. There are all kinds of knockoff “fusion” bullshit out there. So first of all, it’s not a real taco truck if the people serving the food are white hipsters and the menus are written in English. By the way, a real taco truck is not called “taco truck.” It’s called a tacorriendo (running taqueria) or lonchera (lunch car). And real taco truck tacos don’t have bougie sauces or strange foodie fish meat.

Moreover, real taco trucks don’t just serve tacos. They have two lists on the side which must be handwritten in Spanish: the carnes and the things you put the carne in, most of which are not actually tacos. Come to think of it: there are five requirements. There might be more or less, but five is a good, click-baity number for the things that must be included in the #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner if they are to be America’s salvation.

1. Tortas

torta

A taco truck must have tortas if it’s going to be America’s salvation. Tortas are the litmus test of whether a food establishment is actual Mexican or pseudo-white-hipster Mexican. Tortas never get served in Tex-Mex chain restaurants. Only in places where actual Mexican people eat. A torta is an incredibly delicious hoagie-like sandwich that includes a meat, fresco cheese, avocado, tomatoes, refried beans, cream, and other things I’m forgetting. A torta is at least a thousand calories. That’s why I skip breakfast when I eat a torta for lunch. The best kind of torta is a torta cubana which has about five different types of meat on it. You may have a heart attack before you’re done eating it. I almost did.
2. Sopes

sope

You can’t eat tortas for every meal or you will literally die in several days. That’s why God invented the sope. It’s a thick, cakey tortilla with beans, a type of meat, crumbled cheese, and cream on top. Whenever I go to Durham, I get sope cravings so bad at night that I will sleepwalk to my car and drive up to Hillsborough Road to have one. Another reason that taco trucks are America’s salvation is because they’re always open all night (if they’re real ones and not pseudo-white-hipster ones). Because many Mexican immigrants work the graveyard shift doing jobs that no white people would ever do and they get hungry while they’re doing it.

3. Lengua and cabeza

lengua

There’s an incredible secret that Mexican taco trucks have discovered that few gringos have ever learned. The tenderest meat in a cow is not anywhere that white peoples’ steaks are usually cut. It’s in the cow’s cheek (cabeza) and the cow’s tongue (lengua). Maybe that sounds nasty to you. But why is it any less nasty to get meat from an animal’s back? All I know is that lengua and cabeza literally melt in your mouth when you’re eating it. If a taco truck is going to be America’s salvation, it must have lengua and cabeza on the list of carnes.

4. The green sauce

salsa-verde-2

If you pull over to a taco truck, the first thing you should look for is a self-serve plastic squeeze bottle with green sauce inside. If you don’t see the green sauce, then get back on the road and keep driving. The green sauce is the magic of the taco truck. Use it sparingly. It will look like guacamole, but it’s murderously spicy. But you have to put it on your tacos. Because you’re supposed to sweat through the pores in your forehead when you eat taco truck food. That’s what makes it a spiritual experience. No green sauce, no salvation.

5. Jarritos

pkg-jarritos

The last item is actually the most important one. If you come up to a taco truck and they’re serving Coca Cola products, wipe the dust off your sandals and leave the premises immediately. Coca Cola is part of the demonic stronghold that #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner is supposed to liberate us from. I’m not sure how much healthier Jarritos are, but they do have pineapple and watermelon-flavored versions. They say that they’re a mix of natural and artificial flavoring, which is better than purely synthetic artificial flavoring. The other great thing about Jarritos is that they don’t have to be cold to be good. Because they’re twice as carbonated as gringo soft drinks, an eighty degree jarrito is just fine. Since the carbonation is part of the spiritual experience of the taco truck, I have to say again that no jarritos means no salvation.

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