Once you’ve had a real taco, it’s hard to go back. The tacos in Mexico just taste better.
Perhaps that’s because Mexicans have been making them a lot longer than anyone else. Although I’ve spent most of my life eating American-style tacos that left me very content, my journey through Mexico (with its many tacos) have probably ruined me for life.
I encountered my favorite tacos in Yucatán, where they are stuffed with the delectable cochínita pibil: slow-roasted pork marinated in sour orange and topped with onion and habanero salsas. The tradition of cochínita typically involves roasting an entire suckling pig with hot coals in an underground pit, a process that softens the meat so wonderfully, you think you’re eating cake.
Typically, cochínita is served on a banana leaf along with a pile of hot tortillas and a bowl of salsa for dressing, but at this roadside taquería in Tulum, the meat was sold as tacos (for about seventy-five cents apiece). Even though I ate them off a paper plate next to the highway to Cancún, they were the very best tacos I’ve had in Mexico–in the world!
Always curious, I ventured back in the taquería’s open-air kitchen where I met laughing Lucy and the smiling Angelica, who showed me all the foundations of a good cochínita taco.
. . . . and should you want to try and make this yourself at home, I found this recipe for Mayan Cochínita on Chow.com
- Nat Geo Expeditions