A taxi driver in Cancun, Mexico was pointing out the various restaurants and bars along the way, including the American chains. Then he cautioned. “There is one chain that we do not have here,” he said. “Know what it is?” It did not take long. “Taco Bell?” He nodded. The same rule holds true in nearby Cozumel and probably most of gulf-side Mexico. What a horrid sight it would be to see tourists going back to their hotels and cruise ships carrying the chain’s to-go boxes. Much less offensive if they had just visited the Colonel.
Stateside, however, there is an open market on the folded crunchy tortilla. Actually, more than a market, there is a fad. Tacos of various fillings are showing up on menus all around town.
It used to be they were ladled with either beef or chicken to accompany the cheese and lettuce, now seafood is often on the menus. Picked random among local Mexican menus, the choices at the Lakeview El Gato Negro include lobster, crawfish and “fresh catch.” Add-ons include grilled mushroom and “Chihuahua cheese.” And yes there are gluten free versions made so, according to the menu, by specifying corn tortillas.
Each November our cover story deals with one food item that we have selected. We take this seriously. Instead of asking readers to make the selections, we assign a food writer and give her almost a year to go out and eat. In the past, chosen topics have included burger, poor boys, fried chicken and pizza, among the usual suspects. This year the taco has risen in such status that it is our topic. From editing the copy, the choices are even greater and more imaginative than we had thought. There is a popular term that the French invented to describe ordering individual dishes rather than a set menu. So it is that the El Gato Negro menu has a section listed as “A La Carte Tacos.” They might taste good topped with marchland du vin sauce.
New Orleans Magazine won the First Place award in the Best Magazine competition at the recent presentation of the New Orleans Press Club. The win was one of several by the magazine including first place finishes in the categories of Layout Design, Best Portrait, Special Section and Feature Reporting. We are proud of our entire staff.