Tacos

Today was tacorrific here at the glass-enclosed LoE nerve center. We started our binge at Oyamel, one of the Jose Andres small-plates meccas in DC. We happened to be down near the National Mall around lunchtime and I suggested we check out Oyamel, which is known for its little Mexican snacks.

Oyamel has a delightful menu of tacos, all of which come in house-made corn tortillas presented on a metal rack for easy eating. I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen grasshopper tacos on any other menu, and for only a few bucks you can see what the mystery is about eating insects. (We passed on them, but it is worth noting that I have consumed Mexican worm salt before, and I liked it enough that I’d be glad to eat it again.) There are also duck confit tacos, which we sampled because I am a big duck confit addict and once I see it on a menu I stop reading because I know what I’m ordering. This one came with a wafer-thin shaving of pineapple and some crispy slivers of onion. Niiiice. We also shared the “Tinga Poblana,” which was an appropriately saucy chicken-chorizo-chipotle stew stuffed into a masa harina shell. And then there was the fish taco, which had chunks of seared fish and a spicy cilantro sauce studded with chunks of tomato. The 2-year-old approved of the fish best of all, but my loyalties were with the duck before I even tasted it.

After lunch, we came home and started discussing what we’d eat for dinner. My spouse put in a vote for Americanized tacos, the sort with ground meat and flour tortillas (even we are not pathetic enough to eat the pre-formed crunchy hard corn taco shells…well, usually anyway). So I made it, with ground turkey, a slew of spices from Penzeys and some tortillas toasted in a hot pan for my husband. I ate my turkey on a salad with some pan-fried corn and a salsa-and-sour-cream dressing.

I ribbed my husband about the inauthenticity of these tacos, which to me had a ring of 1950s Tamale Pie to them. “What, they’re eating duck confit tacos in Mexico?” he asked. Ok, ok, chefs are allowed some license to get creative, and likewise I’m allowed to mail it in as long as it’s decent food that we like every so often. Besides, doing so gave us a chance to experience both ends of the taco spectrum in a single day. (And no, we’re not indulging in the “fourth meal” at Taco Kvell later tonight, I think we’re done with tacos for now. And even I have my limits vis-a-vis taco authenticity.)

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