Sunday, July 18, 2010

International Incident Party - Tacos

I had high hopes for this month's IIP (a worldwide blogger event hosted by penny aka jeroxie of Addictive & Consuming, another local Melbourne food blog).  The theme is tacos, and I pulled out my Diana Kennedy Mexican cookbook and planned to make carnitas, crispy shredded pork, by poaching the meat until it was very tender and all the water evaporated, and then shredding it and frying it in its own fat.  Given that as you read this, I will be in my own personal hell - about to undertake 3 separate flights, by myself, with my 3 kids under the age of 5 - I think cooking anything other than grilled cheese sandwiches this week was somewhat ambitious.

Droll wit that I am, I had intended to start my post with my most embarrassing foodie confession, my beloved taco kit, before saying, "Just joking, here is my brilliant recipe."  But the more I think about it, Penny's International Incident Parties have, for me, been about sharing the things my family loves with the world, and potentially inspiring other busy people, parents or otherwise, that interesting, multicultural food is not hard to make.  This post will at least tick the first box!

The fact of the matter is, much as it is a total bastardisation of proper Mexican food, the taco kit has a very special place in my heart.  When I am feeling fragile, the happy red and yellow box is like a security blanket.  It reminds me of my childhood.  My parents divorced when I was about 12 and we subsequently spent every Sunday with my Dad.  He would often make tacos from an Old El Paso kit.  The table would be covered in white bowls with a myriad of colourful fillings - the meat, with its violently-coloured orange oil coalescing around the edges; crisp shredded iceberg lettuce; yellow grated cheese; bright red diced tomato.  As a young child, it was the perfect meal because you could fill each taco as you chose, and in the bunfight that ensued after the hot shells were placed on the table, no one noticed if you ate any vegetables.

When I am feeling frazzled, there is something comforting about pulling out this "magic box" that has everything you need inside (taco shells, seasoning, and salsa) plus a handy list on the front directing you to purchase 500g of meat, cheese, and lettuce.  Sometimes we crave that for life.  When faced with a difficult decision, it is wonderful to have friends and family to talk it through, but sometimes I want to cry, "Someone, just tell me what to do!"  Some friends of mine are very religious people who live their entire life to the letter of their religion, striving to emulate their prophet right down to the way he cut his nails.  My free spirit rails against this.  It seems such a waste of human ingenuity, but at the same time, I do see the appeal.  Follow these steps, and everything will be perfect.  The taco kit is my secular response to that same fragile human need.

Thanks for indulging me!  I am so excited for my upcoming trip to the USA and all the fabulous Mexican and other Hispanic food.  Even right out in suburbia where I will be, there are fantastic, authentic taquerias and I am going to totally overindulge in tacos el pastor the day I land.  I look forward to having all the ingredients at hand to try out all your fabulous taco recipes!


  1. I hope you have a good trip even though you have 3 kids in tow! And thanks for still joining in irregardless. Look forward to hear all about your trip :)

  2. Lovely, lovely post! Have a safe trip and I hope you get to eat your fill of tacos. And if not - good ole El Paso will be here when you get back! Hehee. :)

  3. Have fun, good luck! I have decided on a very quick trip to LA in Aug for about 6 days to celebrate my Grandmother's 95th birthday! And I plan on eating a lot of Mexican food :-)

  4. Have a great trip! And yes, fill up on tacos!

  5. I so want to go to Mexico since i bought Diana Kennedy's book 20yrs ago...
    Mushroom hunting in the pine, fir and oak forests of Jalisco, Michoacan, Colima.
    sample the Mezcal in Oaxaca and Zacatecas
    The Tequila in Jalisco...
    The diversity of foods.
    plants in ecosystems from subalpine to tropical lowland forest.

    ...enjoy your trip.

    ps. there's always masa harina and a tortilla press.
    you can get them at
    Aztec Imports, Tullamarine

  6. penny - I forgot to officially join the party! Whoooops! Always next month.

    Agnes, Kurichan, and Adrian - thank you! Kurichan, have an awesome time in LA. We had the best Korean BBQ last time we were there.

    Speedy - thanks for your comments! I would love to go to Mexico. As you say, so diverse, and so many layers of history. I find the interweaving of pre-Spanish conquest religious rituals and Christian symbolism particularly interesting.

    I have been wanting to go to Aztec Imports for ages! Will have to find some faves this trip, then head out there.


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