So when I was half way through my previous posting on Anthony Bourdain, and watching my daily dose of No Reservations online, I got a little craving for TACOS! And not just any kind of taco; not your run of the mill, chain restaurant flour tortilla taco. O no, no, no, I wanted a taco that hit a little closer to real deal. (Plus I'm an advocate of corn tortilla anyways...)
It really is a shame that there aren't street food vendor's on American streets. I think the closest thing we get to street food would be taco trucks...and believe me it's a lot better than your local taco bell...A LOT BETTER and it's affordable! And let's face it, half the fun of eating at a taco truck comes from sitting curb-side with maize tortillas filled with lengua (cow tongue) or whatever kind of meat you like, salsa verde, onions, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and a side of radish for a buck twenty five each to brighten up your day. Yes folks, I did say "a buck twenty five", did your jaw drop or what!? And this place that some friends of mine discovered on a late night snack run (yes, it's open 24 hours) has tacos that are reminiscent of taco trucks and worth the travel.
I decided to take a little 4 mile drive to one of the best taqueria places I've had since I've been living in Orange County. Taqueria De Anda in Santa Ana. YUMMMM!!! Now, I grew up with taco trucks in San Francisco and if you love taco truck tacos, man is this the place for you. Sure Taqueria De Anda looks a little drab on the outside...and sure, it's definitely not your five star restaurant on the inside either, BUT C'MON it's a taqueria for Pete's sake and all that's on my mind when my stomach is roaring "TACOS!" is this place.
Nestled just beyond a set of railroad tracks in Santa Ana California, this place serves some of the most authentic tacos I've had thus far. The large dark beige building with a children's play train at the far right of the building makes it look somewhat like a McDonalds, and the interior isn't that far from it either. The large white trimmed windows light up the red tile floors and the plastic booths and tables inside the dining area. The lengua, cabesa, pollo, and carne esada are put in metal tubs that are heated with boiling water beneath it; similar to the way food is kept warm at a buffet. Each taco is made with two small maize tortillas and stuffed with meat, cilantro, onions, and salsa. Nothing fancy, nothing frilly; strictly practical. To the left of the cash register is a salad bar with two different types of salsa, radishes, key lime wedges, cilantro, and onions (I myself, opt for a TON of limes) And as a refreshment order up a nice big 'ole cup of Horchata (rice milk).
Taqueria De Anda I would say is more of a Mexican food "joint" rather than a "restaurant". I know, I know, "joint"? YES! That's right. A food "joint". Although the word makes this establishment sound unreliable and disgusting (and it may seem so when you walk in) I believe you have to EARN the title of a food "joint". I associate the word with "authenticity" and "deliciousness"not to mention "affordability". When a taqueria serves lengua and cabesa (tongue and head, usually of a cow) and cooks it properly, it's worthy of five stars from me, and this place has go it!
The picture I supplied isn't of a taco from Taqueria De Anda, I nabbed it from http://www.bunrab.com/dailyfeed/dailyfeed_images_feb-07/df07_02-19_tongueo.jpg.
Disappointing I know. It looks similar, a little more dressy and styled than the real thing, but I was already 3/4 of the way done with my last taco before it even occurred to me that I should take a picture...but next time I go...I'll make it a point to remember!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
THE FIRST POSTING IN THE EMPTY LUNCH PAIL!
I think it only proper to mention where I got my inspiration for food writing from. Anthony Bourdain. Chef, author, and traveler. What person wouldn't want his job right? This now 52 year old leather jacket wearing, author of Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits, television show host of Food Network's A Cook's Tour and the Travel Channel's No Reservations, and not to mention having been a chef at top restaurants in New York like Brasserie Les Halles; Bourdain has made quite a name for himself in the culinary world. He has also made appearances as a celebrity guest judge on Top Chef.
This guy tells it like it is, his brashness and and witty comments can cut through you like a hot knife through butter. Not to mention his sarcasm makes him really enjoyable to watch. I would have to say that he's the only reality bad ass on TV that can pull off drinking, smoking, vulgarity, traveling, and eating, and have millions upon millions of people love him and bow down at his skill and knowledge for food.
Something that Anthony Bourdain has taught me and is something that I really appreciate is that some of the best food comes from "hole in the wall restaurants" and home cooked meals; although the occational meal from Daniel Boulud's Le Cirque, Gary Danko's, or even Thomas Keller's French Laundry never hurt anyone (only your wallet), fine dining isn't the only kind of good food out there. Inexpensive doesn't always mean poor quality, and expensive food doesn't always mean fantastic quality. Put into consideration that the idea of great food can mean simple and inexpensive food comes from a man who's been through the classic trainings of the Culinary Institute of America and can cook dishes worth $30-50 a pop; I'd say, it's a reliable souce.
And seriously, is there anything that this guy won't try at least once? NOPE! From beating cobra hearts in Vietnam to raw seal eye ball in Alaska; the most disgusting thing he claims he's ever eaten is a Chicken McNugget (although the warthog rectum in Nimbia is a close contender). Though I'd have to disagree, I've had more disgusting things than the Chicken McNugget...so I guess the fact is, is that if the most disgusting thing that Anthony Bourdain's ever had were McNuggets...then all the other slimy, ooey, gooey, eight legged things he's eaten can't be that bad...right? RIGHT!
So this is where my journey begins...from the inspiration that comes from Anthony Bourdain, I've come to fall in love with finding the humble settings, and eating the food that is reminiscent of a home cooked meal brought to me by chefs from all over the world.