Friday, August 31, 2007
Tacos arabes y orientales
I was really excited to try these. I just loved the idea of “Oriental tacos.” I didn’t expect flying carpets or Buddha figures, but I’d read a little bit about “tacos arabes” in Puebla on Chowhound, and I’d imagined a beautiful collision between shwarmas and tacos to create something completely, fabulously new.
So after three months of thinking about them, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed when I finally got to La Antequera in Colonia Reforma, on Calzada Porfirio Diaz a few blocks north of Belisario Dominguez. The menu listed quesadillas, tortas, and two types of tacos, “arabes” and “orientales.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked.
“Arabes are larger, orientales are smaller.”
A truly unexciting answer. Still, I ordered one of each and a side of “cebollas,” imagining unctuous, rich, sautéed onions.
When they arrived, they just sat there like limp rags. The “arabe” taco had, instead of a corn tortilla, a slightly thicker bread around it. It wasn’t quite like pita, a little chewy, a little floury. The bread had good flavor, and the meat inside it was salty and flavorful also, but there was nothing else going on. It came with a side of tart red salsa, and I sprinkled it on liberally, but there was nothing else to help it gain some dimension. The onions turned out to be quite pale, not at all caramelized as I’d hoped, and watery to boot.
The “orientale” was a smaller version, with a tortilla wrapped around. Just like the waiter said.
I think the experience could have been different in a group. I can imagine a happy table of friends sitting around a plate filled with meat, another plate stacked high with hot pita-like breads, drinking beer and making tacos one after the other. But my two sad little tacos and even sadder bowl of chopped onions wasn’t that.
If you are meat-lover, you are more likely to fall head over heels in love with the "carne frita" or fried meat of pork at El Biche Pobre.