Comer un taco
Eating a taco is a particular art, one that is learned through experience and with proper guidance from an expert who can take you down the intricate path of this culinary discipline. Despite the fact that everyone has a unique style, there are certain unwritten rules that must be followed by the least common of all senses: common sense.
It matters not if you are dressed in a suit, if you have just come from a fancy party, or are currently at a wedding; eating tacos demands wholeheartedly diving into an experience in which cutlery does not exist whilst simultaneously remaining clean and composed. Let’s be clear, eating a taco correctly is part of the practice and the enjoyment of this uniquely Mexican delicacy.
Do it neatly
Keep things clean and you will enjoy the taco more. Even in a hurry, not getting messy is an important goal. You should still be able to wear a tuxedo without sacrificing an ounce of tidiness.
Two fingers hold the tortilla
Thumb and index finger should hold the tortilla. The middle and ring fingers can assist with larger tacos and those with a lot of filling to help to maintain the structure.
- There are people who raise their pinkie finger. This can be seen as a variation that exudes some flair or as an involuntary motion. It is, nonetheless, acceptable.
- The taco should never be eaten with cutlery (we are not dealing with enchiladas here), nor can it be eaten like a hamburger or sandwich. This point is non-debatable.
- Once the taco is in place and on the way to the mouth, the neck should stretch a few centimeters out from the body, taking care not to drip on the aforementioned apparel (see point 1).
- The head should lean away from the hand holding the taco. Accepted inclination of 5° – 45° depending on size of the taco and level of hunger. It is not just a matter of style, for this gesture will allow the taco filling and all its incredible flavors to fall onto your taste buds and not the plate, or worse, your attire.
Notes on the bite
The bite will have to be large so as not to stain the areas surrounding the mouth (lips, chin, cheeks, and nose). A suitable inclination (see previous point) will help with a clean bite. As the taco is the sum of its parts, each bite must include everything you have chosen to garnish it with: tortilla(s), filling, salsa, lime, onion, cilantro.
In case of stains
In case the mouthful has caused some spilling, there are two ways to proceed:
- It can be cleaned with the back of the hand if there are no napkins present (an unlikely scenario at a taquería).
- When napkins are plentiful, use them to wipe the face and hands. If there is brown paper, use it carefully as it can cause the opposite effect and smear the grease. (Note: despite being greasy, it is not frowned upon to continue eating the taco to its end without wiping your hands or mouth. This is especially true if the taco is extra delicious or the hunger is at ravenous levels.)
The hand that holds the taco
Once the taco is finished, the hand that brought it to the mouth has two functions.
- Signaling with your fingers, order the number of tacos that will be consumed next.*
- Repeat the whole process.
*(If you want more than five, don’t use your other hand to ask for them. Remember that the taco is best enjoyed hot and that you can order little by little to satisfy whatever craving.)
Always rate the tacos
Qualifying the taco and making a mental review is of the utmost importance. Points to note: location, menu options, flavor, integrity. With this data, you will be able to recommend, compare, but above all, return in case the taco shop warrants it.
With only four elements – tortilla, filling, salsa, and garnish – the taco has shown that it can create a world of gastronomic possibilities for any type of palate. Now that you know the proper steps for eating them, I wish you well on your next taco adventure.