There are very few things in this world that possess the ability to turn my mood around with minimal to no effort, to make me smile obnoxiously when my frown feels cemented. One of these precious saviors is Mexican food—tacos to be exact. My love for this simple, yet delicious dish started at a young age when my mom would cook them for dinner.
Tacos were the go-to meal for celebrations, like people’s birthday parties. Or maybe just my birthday parties. I turned 25 in September, and you bet that was still my b-day dinner request. Of course we had this meal more than once a year, but it stands out in my mind as a “special” meal that I always feel overly excited for, and that’s how I remember it as a kid.
Now, when I say I have a deep love for Mexican food, I should be honest and label it “Americanized” Mexican food because
the type of tacos I drool over are not exactly considered “authentic.” What is considered an authentic taco usually consists of a corn tortilla, meat, lots of onions, and cilantro drizzled with some lime juice. The biggest problem here for me is the lack of sour cream. Where is the sauce?!
Once I moved out I continued the taco tradition, following my mom’s recipe to a T:
-Flour tortillas, hard and soft shell (hard shell completes the experience)
-Ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning (the packet is labeled taco seasoning; enter “Americanized” here)
-Sour cream (lots of it)
-Taco sauce (I prefer Ortega’s mild sauce which can be found in the “ethnic” food isle)
-Any other random ingredients one would prefer such as tomatoes, but the above list is all I need
My favorite local restaurant to get this similar experience is Sergio’s Cantina on State Street in Geneva, IL. With their fried, puffy hard shell stuffed with freshly seasoned meat of your choice, it explodes with flavor while being topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and soft shredded cheese with a drizzling of sour cream. Served with a side of rice and refried beans mixed with melted mozzarella cheese, you will crave them again.
To put in perspective how much tacos mean to me, here is one example. After graduating college, I felt the world at my feet, and working at a publishing company was my #1 goal. I had scored an interview at one near me (yes, some still exist) and even made it to the final round. After obsessively checking my email for a couple weeks, I was heartbroken to hear I wasn’t chosen. I cried in my boyfriend’s arms and moped around the kitchen telling my mom what happened. “Would tacos for dinner make you feel better?” my mom asked sympathetically.
“YES!” I chimed, immediately switching moods. Sometimes I make jokes I have multiple personalities, but these moments make me wonder. This is just one of the best examples of how delicious food has the power to bring happiness in times I feel things breaking around me. When trying to explain this to someone who doesn’t have an emotional connection with food, most often respond with a look insinuating you are crazy and food is just food. That’s okay, more tacos for me.
Crunching into the hard shell taco while the sour cream mixes with the spice of the sauce and meat is gratifying in a way soft shells aren’t. I genuinely enjoy the experience of a tasty meal. Sometimes that’s all it takes to turn around a rough patch in a day, which is even better when shared with good company. This entree is definitely on my “max-out” list consisting of foods that push me past the limit of where I should stop. The best part is guilt is never the emotion that follows, just pure satisfaction.