Operation "No Tacos" - ¡Si Se Pudo!
photos by Marco Torres
They said it couldn't be done. But "they" were wrong. I made it. And now, ten pounds lighter, I'm back and hungry as ever.
Thinking back, the premise was so simple. Can a Houstonian go 30 days without Mexican food? The simple answer is "yes, of course!" But the reality was anything but simple, especially for me. You know that thing when your subconscious picks up on an object or idea, then all of a sudden you see that object or idea in everything, everywhere? For the month of November, tacos ruled everything around me. It was my forbidden fruit in this urban Garden of Eden called Houston.
My #30DaysNoTacos challenge was never intended to be an exercise in discovering new restaurants or cuisines. Nor was it intended to prove the unhealthiness of Mexican food. It was simply an interesting gastronomical experiment. The reactions that I received from my friends, family, and strangers ranged from support ("you can do it, Marco! Just a few more days!") to outrage ("how dare you turn your back on the most holy and noble taco!"). All of the comments and support made this craziness worth the suffering.
Cleansing the palate before the feast
And now it's over. To tell you the truth, I'm a bit sad about it. Would I do it again? Probably not. But it was fun while it lasted. I ended my fast last night at the Original Ninfa's (2704 Navigation) with a big plate of fajitas and a pitcher of Ninfaritas. I halfway expected some kind of nirvana moment as soon as the first piece of tender outside skirt steak made contact with my tastebuds. It may not have been quite that dramatic, but I can now fall in love with Mexican food all over again.
I leave you with a recipe that is perfect for the cold weather.
Marco's Almost Famous Frijoles A La Charra
(2) Pounds of Pinto Beans, (1) Pack of Sliced Bacon, (1) Small Bundle of Cilantro, (1/2) White Onion, (1) Can of diced jalapenos, Salt
Clean the beans by picking through them for rocks and any ugly/rotten beans. After inspection, place in a colander/strainer and run them under the water for a minute or so.
Place the beans in a large pot. Fill the pot 3/4 of the way with water. Place on stove with the burner on med/high. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of salt evenly distributed over the water/beans.
While the beans are cooking, chop up the onion & cilantro (stems and all...but not the rubber band!).
Cut each bacon strip into about 6-7 pieces. Place the bacon onto a pan and cook, but do not let the bacon become crispy. Separate the bacon and the grease, after you turn off the burner and let things cool, of course.
After maybe an hour of cooking the beans, add the chopped onion, cilantro, bacon, and diced jalapenos. Add about 1/2 of the vinegar that came in the can of jalapenos. Mix everything well.
Cook for another 15-20 minutes. You may need to add more water and salt.
Feeds: A lot of drunk people. You can adjust the amount of ingredients to suit the hotness level (less or more jalapenos/vinegar). Can be made with or without bacon.
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