I have always said that it is better to be a gourmand than a gourmet; the distinction being, in my mind, that a gourmand loves food while a gourmet is a connoisseur. The latter implies that there are such things as “guilty pleasures,” such as my love for the “Mexican Pizza” at Taco Bell. I am not guilty re: Taco Bell’s “Mexican Pizza.”
That delightful, crisp crust sandwiched between layers of beans and mediocre beef, with diced tomatoes that should by all rights not be that crisp when they’re that red, a squirt of sour cream and some green onions is one of life’s pleasures. For some time that pleasure was denied me, but today it has returned.
And yet as I write it is Tuesday, which chez Peyton is Taco Tuesday. We plan for Taco Tuesday and have the ingredients purchased in advance. We are not going to Taco Bell on Tuesday.
“But what if?” I thought to myself, “What if I made a ‘Mexican Pizza’ myself?” “That’s insane!” I said to myself, “but it just might work!”
So I fried some flour tortillas and layered them with refried red beans, seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese and on my half at least, diced tomato and sliced green onion tops. Then I put the whole thing under the broiler until the cheese just melted, because that’s the way I always got it at Taco Bell.
It was good. We enjoyed it, and I think it was probably objectively better than the Taco Bell version, but I still want one of theirs.
What I enjoyed about trying to replicate the “Mexican Pizza” was that when I was thinking about how to make it, I was looking at the individual elements, what I liked about them and how I could make something approximating the final version. So I fried some flour tortillas.
I used the refried beans we had on hand and the ground beef we’d made for tacos. The tomato was actually ripe, which is not canon, but we all make allowances from time to time, don’t we? I suspect the shredded cheddar was the same shredded cheddar used at the Bell. To be clear, it was the Rouses brand sharp cheddar, finely shredded.
There may be GI issues in my near future as a result of this adventure. I believe we seasoned the ground beef for the tacos twice. I am pretty sure I washed the green onions. I may have eaten more than one but not quite two fried flour tortillas as a quality assurance matter, but the point is that anything I can do to advance the art of making Taco Bell “Mexican Pizzas” at home is worth it.
Do I not live for my art? Then I may die* for it as well! I die* for those brave souls who, perhaps building on my work, strive to create the ultimate Taco Bell “Mexican Pizza” not made at a Taco Bell.