Tacos crop up in lots of American films.
‘What kind of inordinate pleasure would unfold if we made them at home?’ I thought, and shared this with the kids.
‘Tacky’s?’ said Rufus.
I feel sorry for Mexicans because of the way they get patronised.* (*that’s a ‘cute’ sentence; it’s wearing a beard and a buttoned-up plaid shirt.)
Stereotypes don’t flatter but the comical, lazy and short version dumped at the modern Mayans’ door never seems to get balanced with any better stuff.
Salma Hayek’s killing herself out there- a lone wolf battling the legacy of Speedy Gonzalez.
(Tangent: I thought Speedy was a kick-back character against the slow thing. I thought he might spawn Wolfgang the towel-folding pool attendant, or Pierre the garlic-hating vampire. Apparently he sprang from a joke about a Mexican man’s overly-eager bedroom performance. Man, do the Mexis get a bad rap.)
It’s hard to think of another country so comprehensively theme-wrapped; are Tex-Mex restaurants a result of this phenomenon or a contributory factor?
Historically, the only ones who chose these places for an evening were the maid of honour or best man who did the block booking.
They were a blur of Ay Caramba! throat-throttling music and Aztec dyed wall hangings, offset by the promise of salted margarita vorp.
Every item on the menu was a flour tortilla re-appearing Mr Benn-styley wrapped, crispy or deep-fried in cheese depending on your preference of heart attack- genius hangover food consumed while you’re in the throes of assembling one.
Take re-fried beans (and eat them; go on, just for a dare).
They manage to make something already inspirationally disagreeable and dial it up a notch.
Why did they stop there? Why wouldn’t ‘poo-marinated re-fried beans’ have worked harder towards another round of licking salt off your boyfriend’s neck only to marginally miss re-introducing tequila soup over it later in bed?
Anyway, there’s really no need to venture out for this kind of experience because Old El Paso have got it sewn up. In fact, you could say they’ve cornered the market; their trusty red and yellow food kits are available everywhere, including dry cleaners.
Ahh, Old El Paso. Makes you want to smile just by-passing them on the food aisle every day for 10 years.
But not this week-end! On Saturday night, nostalgia won over. ‘Today these leedle suckers, they come-a back-a to the casa wi me,’ I chortled to myself light of spirit in Tesco.
There’s not strictly speaking all that much inside Old El Paso boxes. They’re only that big so there’s space to fit in all the acidity regulators on the list of ingredients. If you turn off the lights the tough little casings glow in the dark.
Lock the kids in a cupboard so you can listen very carefully, and you’ll hear them singing a corrupt Mexican lullaby.
There were fajita building units too, though without the sizzling centrepiece skillet I knew there would be an excitement shortfall.
I also balked at the reconstituted guacamole possibly devised in the presence of an avocado but not necessarily inclusive of one (a large specimen of the Hass variety, for example, given an authoritative role as the substitute contents parade by: ‘Copydex? Yes.’ ‘Bile? Ok. ‘Psoriasis flakes?’ Wouldn’t be the same without them.’)
I darted between soured cream, tomatoes, grated cheese, limes and lettuce like Dale Winton doing Supermarket Sweep in a poncho.
I actually left with enough food to construct another winning development of luxury homes in Hammersmith (and with mostly the right materials).
And so it was I became that special kind of arse that feels the need to parcel every experience for kids as an event, in adherence with the secular commandment that they’re too numbed to enjoy something that can’t be made into a WordPress blog post.
TACO NIGHT was born and I knew it was going to be successful because we’ve got a pair of maracas and a wide-brimmed hat that’s been waiting all its life under the stairs for this opportunity.
I was going to bring Central America to W3. I was going to prop our desperate little evening. I probably wasn’t going to dress up as Frida Kahlo but, ‘See, kids, Mummy does ‘fun’. I told you I did, didn’t I? I did tell you that.’
Clock forward a few hours and the fiesta’s in the can, from whence barely 50% of it came.
The table’s a wreckage, strewn with the unsuccessful transportation of toppings to shell.
There was some anxiety about getting the ratio of guac to salsa wrong or, worse, forgetting the sprinkled cheese altogether on one of your ‘go’s’.
The jalapeno peppers were missed (forsaken because the overwhelming remainder would inevitably calcify in the fridge).
The powder-enhanced mince was tasty and if it rang of Soylent Green at all, you just put that out of your mind.
The re-fried beans- Sweet Jesus, the re-fried beans; the kids warned they’d issue a restraining order on them if necessary.
They aped solidified diarrhoea in appearance, tasted like a Bushtucker trial and used their unmistakable scent to falsely advertise the imminent satisfaction of a dog’s appetite: a 360 degree sensory experience of unparalleled invidiousness.
But overall, it was a minor novelty sensation.
Geth was the architect of structurally sound taco towers, with shredded lettuce roof terraces; Bruno discovered (and wore) his new favourite food; Rufus didn’t understand what the hell was going on but gave a nod to the deconstructed serving approach; and I got indigestion by taking incessant photographs but mostly enjoyed the inordinate pleasure unfolding.
2024 we’ll be back: Ariba, ariba! Andale, andale!