Tacos: Journey to the Other Side of the Tracks (A Guest Post by Perry and Alex)
Yesterday, after rudely not inviting me to join them, my friends Perry and Alex requested that I allow them to write a guest post about their taco-filled adventure. Since they make up the majority of my readership (as in, basically its entirety with the exception of those who are required to read it), I had to acquiesce. It’s largely blasphemous, it implies I’m a bad driver (okay, I almost killed us one time), and it questions whether this blog has achieved its goals, yet it’s such a well told adventure that falls very much in line with the spirit of the blog that I couldn’t help but smile as I read it.
Nicole’s ambitious title suggests that her blog will be a daring culinary exploration of biblical proportions. Jesus Christ, set to be crucified, made the most of his final meal, literally creating a new covenant with mankind and establishing the Eucharist, or the Holy Communion where he gave his disciples bread, saying, “This is my body”, and gave them wine, saying, “This is my blood.”
I mean, I loved the Pit as much as she did, but driving by NC State isn’t exactly like having dinner with the son of God. Although with Nicole driving I did spend a good time praying to Him.
As her friend, and a former pupil of Professor Harris’, I hope to inject a sense of urgency and intrepidity into this forum, befitting its lofty name. The Last Suppers should be a winged apparition, a white raven, fleeting about the unexplored culinary offerings of the Triangle. I will, however, try to follow Nicole’s practice of providing you with novel-length blog posts.
Thursday, March 15th is a momentous day. Fittingly, the Last Supper is thought to have been held on the Thursday before Good Friday. But more importantly, it marks the real beginning of the NCAA tournament, with 64 teams taking the court in just 48 hours.
A late meeting meant that at 7:30 PM I was on my way to pick up a friend to watch the games, having not yet eaten dinner. As I drove down Lasalle Street, stomach protesting, and passed the strangely conveniently located Maxx’s Adult Emporium, a crazy idea occurred to me.
I craned my neck and looked ahead, hoping beyond hope that I’d see a flash of neon green on the literal other side of the train tracks. It was too good to be true. I had tried too many times; I had been disappointed, sent home hungry, too many times. The mythical, transitory, fleeting taco truck Tortas, could not possibly be parked in that gravel parking lot when I needed it most.
But there it was.
Alex, in the passenger seat, did not understand the metaphysical—the biblical—significance of the truck’s appearance. He was not there those many lunchtimes when I set out looking for it, desperately curious to try the tacos from this mobile restaurant, only to see nothing but gravel and train tracks in its place. He was not there the countless times I drove by at odd hours, not remotely hungry, to pass it parked there defiantly, its wheels taunting me, advertising its ephemeral nature. It was never there when I needed it—not until today.
I pulled into the small lot by the train tracks, and Alex and I got out to order. I was so startled by the trucks presence, so scared it was a mirage, that I couldn’t decide what to order. Finally, I cowardly ordered in English, despite my Spanish minor, my semester inMadrid, and the entirely Spanish menu posted on the truck’s plexiglass window.
“Two pollo and two barbacoa.”
For some reason I was worried that saying “dos” would offend the latina women taking my order; I’m not sure why. At $2 each, these tacos were a steal, and came with a free choice of spicy red or less-spicy green salsa. Neither one of us sprang for the $3 gordita.
Alex and I studied the small menu as we waited for our food to be prepared. I showed off my Spanish skills by recognizing that azada should be spelled with an s, that lengua means tongue, and cabeza means head, but failed to come up with a reason for why they served tongue or head tacos.
We thanked the women for our food (in English), and drove to our friend Anne’s apartment. We gleefully unwrapped our plastic-bagged plates of food as she envied our good fortune. She had been on my previous—failed—lunchtime expeditions. She had tasted the bitter disappointment of the mythical neon green taco truck.
As I peeled back the shiny foil, I uncovered an appetizing rainbow of mexican cuisine. My three tacos lay snugly folded beside each other, lush green cilantro generously sprinkled atop them, rosy red radishes on one end and sprightly green limes on the other; a thick juicy wedge for each taco. I scraped off most of the onions, but the chicken taco I first bit into was near as good as it looked. I do wish that I had reversed my chicken-to-pork ratio, as the lone barbacoa taco was even more delicious.
I allowed Anne a bite of my dinner—chicken, of course—and she agreed that it was worth the long wait, but her jealousy was not fully assuaged. As Nicole wrote under the title of her blog, this is “a taste of second semester senior life.”
It’s not just about what’s on your foil-lined, plastic-bagged plate, it’s how you got there, how you stood outside in the warm Durham spring night, a train roaring past just ten yards away, waiting for tacos from a neon green mexican food truck across the street from a sex shop.