November Writing Challenge Day 6: Tacos

I’m blogging every day this month. Some will be game-related, but this challenge is different than my most recent play-a-game-and-blog-about-it challenge. I’m writing a single post every day: no topic guidelines, with some posts being a collection of random thoughts. Click here to read yesterday’s post.

It’s not Taco Tuesday, but let’s talk tacos anyways. Living in Southern California I’ve always believed we have the best tacos outside of Mexico. I know I’m not the only one who subscribes to the theory that Mexican food goes down in quality the further away you get from the border. I’ve had tacos in New York that were barely edible.

In fact, I used to be a snob about tacos. I want a tiny warm corn tortilla filled with carne asada or lengua or even cabeza, topped off with cilantro and onion, with a splash of salsa. Bringing me a hard shell, cheese, and ground beef was like spitting on a plate and serving it to me.

From hand battered and deep fried fish to freshly carved al pastor with a slice of pineapple, I love tacos of all types. Bonus points if I can get grilled green onions, a smoky jalapeno, and a fistful of radishes on the side.

I was thinking about how my taste buds have changed over the years. I used to be the guy that would drown any kind of Mexican food in salsa. The hotter the better. Now, I want to enjoy the taste without breaking into a sweat.

And maybe I’m mellowing in my old age, but those hard shell tacos with the ground beef and golden cheese? I’ll eat them, if I’m in the right mood, which means if I’m feeling nostalgic for the tacos from my youth, served at my non-Mexican friends’ homes. The tacos I’d eat after baseball practice at the snack shack. Or the rare occasion when I found myself at a Pup ‘N Taco or Naugles.

But if given a choice, gimme those tacos from a truck or, even better, from some pop-up roadside stand after a night of cocktails and shenanigans.

Day 59: Pancit Molo

Pancit Molo

Pancit Molo

My first attempt at pancit molo (Filipino wonton soup) was a success, thanks my wife’s copy of The Adobo Road Cookbook by Marvin Gapultos. Hardcore food truck fans might recognize the author’s name: he was the founder of Southern California’s first Filipino food truck, The Manila Machine. For those lucky enough to have eaten there, The Manila Machine served wonderful versions of Filipino favorites like adobo, sisig, lumpia, and more. I’ll never forget their delicious sliders (on pan de sal, of course) and ube cupcakes.  Sadly, the truck is long gone, but this cookbook does have a few of its recipes; I can’t wait to make the sisig using pork belly, among dozens of others.

The recent rains put me in the mood for soup. I had planned on making sinigang na baboy, but we had it earlier in the week at one of our favorite Filipino eateries. I love my mother-in-law’s pancit molo and after a quick search in Gapultos’ cookbook, I found the recipe.

It wasn’t a difficult recipe to follow; it was labor-intensive yet strangely relaxing. In fact, I learned that making dozens and dozens of dumplings was a nice way to spend a rainy late afternoon. The soup and the dumplings were delicious and, more importantly, they passed the does-my-wife-like-it taste test. And since I used more shrimp, ginger, and patis than the recipe called for, I decided there was only one name for my version of pancit molo: Pancit YOLO.

Lots of labor required for the dumplings, but totally worth it.

Lots of labor required for the dumplings, but totally worth it.