Friday, April 6, 2012

Essay on Street Food

Essay on Street Food

The speed of life seems to double every decade, and the citizens of developed countries are determined to deal with this intensification in every possible way. We try to manage our time as properly as we can – work, studying, family, friends, hobbies, travels – all this takes time, and we run desperately trying to do as much as we can. That is probably why quick snack has become so popular in recent decades. Family dinners in urban areas are as rare as gramophone records. We eat anywhere and anytime we can. Street food is one of the most common and moderate ways of outdoor snacking.

Of course this type of food is subjected to criticism more than any other type. Some highbrows consider it unhygienic or even violating etiquette. Still, street food has its fans, because it is cheap and easy-to-access, and even delicious sometimes. I believe street food could be a good way of snacking as long as you know the vendor and are a patron. Visiting a street food vendor should not be a daily habit of course, cooking or visiting a café or a restaurant may be as rewarding, and even more pleasant, but there is nothing reprehensible is you drop in for a bite of soft taco from time to time.

The latter has gained popularity since street food became available. Some street vendors even tend to have patrons from the vast surrounding area. Soft tacos are great when made by an expert.

Tacos came to the United States from Mexico, just like many other street quick snacks. The Southern part of the U.S. has been influenced by the Mexican cuisine more than any other, so one can find hundreds of places selling nachos, burritos and tacos con carne y salsa. The Mexican food has gained popularity due to the increase of offer as well, especially taking into consideration the influx of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. in the course of the XXI century.

The word taco originally means "plug" and refers to rolled paper or cloth patches for musket balls, Wikipedia claims [1]. When one uses imagination, a food called taco becomes exactly what it means: a typical taco consists of a rolled, folded, pliable maize tortilla with a tasty filling and dressed with savory condiments. The filling may vary from traditional meat (beef, pork, chicken - Tripa, Asada, Lengua, Cabeza, Pollo), seafood or even spicy vegetables for the vegetarians.

A great taco has a soft flour tortilla, crunch and tender meat with plenty of juice, a salsa roja, cheese, lettuce, cilantro and a squirt of lime. You will never forget the taste of it. And you will certainly be back for more. There even are quests for the best tacos in town among the street food lovers, especially in L.A. You can find tacos in small restaurants, fast food chains like Taco Bell, and on the streets from a street vendor. It is usually eaten out of hand, and the most common toppings are already included into the meal (sour cream, salsa, etc). A juicy taco does not need any supplements, except for maybe a soft drink or a pint of beer with lime, when you have time to sit and enjoy it in a cozy restaurant serving Mexican food.

I was delighted to find great lines by Jorge Ibargüengoitia Antillón, Mexican novelist and playwright, because these lines define what a taco really is: "I would like to invent something that will be at the same time dish, spoon, napkin and tablecloth, that it does not need to be washed but at the same time will assure the person who is about to put it in his mouth that it is clean and has not been touched by other lips. Something that could be eaten so at the end of the banquet nobody has anything to wash and not leftovers be seen on the table."[2]

The popularity of tacos has increased due to the nationwide promotion by the fast food chains such as Taco Bell, Mighty Taco, Del Taco, Taco Bueno, etc. So it is not a street food as such. It is equally good in the restaurants and will good street vendors – the latter are cheaper that is all. It can be eaten any time you feel hungry or your tongue longs for a mix of palatable tastes. It is also sold at a reasonable price and in various combinations of filling, so you can hardly be jaded with a taco. Prepared quickly and eaten accordingly, taco wins the favor of most quick snack lovers.

It is also loved by the tourists, especially younger or less well-to-do ones. A taco might save your time and money for the sightseeing and other entertainments found in abundance in the L.A. area. The tourist version does not really vary from the original – it is found in the same restaurants, so the food is just the same. Delicious.

Certainly, the type of taco (soft or hard-shell) and the filling depends on locale. The tacos from the fast food chains are more universal, while the street food has a touch of original Mexican food with impressive combinations of tastes and flours. Of course, there are opinions that tacos and the rest of the Mexican food, especially street food are for the low-income people, and that is unhealthy, just like any other quick snack is. But we already are a fast-food nation, aren’t we? So why not taste the best the market can offer and enjoy a unique opportunity to indulge our gustatory receptors and manage to save time and money at the same moment.

If there was a friend or a relative visiting me, I would certainly take him to taste the tacos and let him decide which he or she likes most. Why tacos? Because they have already become a part of U.S. history and food tradition. Do not be highbrowed, try it. This plain and easy-to-get meal has already won the hearts (tongues and stomachs) of millions. There must be something special about the tacos, if they continue being the top choice of numerous people. Try and find out!

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