Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A surprise in every taco

This morning I showed Félix a photo I took of an Icelandic horse, a rather stumpy but powerful fellow with a beautiful long mane. I thought I'd shock Félix by telling him that some people in Iceland eat horsemeat.

It's what's for dinner. 
Hah! You have to get up early in the morning to shock Félix. 

Sure, he said, in Mexico you never know what street vendors use for their taco fillings—meat from horses, various parts of the cattle head and even bull penises that are called tacos de viril, or roughly "virile tacos." A euphemism if there ever was one.

I thought Félix was putting me on but then I remembered that fellow blogger Felipe Zapata has spotted penis tacos for sale in Pátzcuaro. I don't recall if he sampled one. 

Félix expounded that you can make tacos from goat meat, but male goats need to be relieved of their testicles a few weeks in advance otherwise the meat can taste pretty foul. He didn't say what modifications are required before preparing female goats.

The possibility of dog tacos came to me several months ago while reading a really funny book called "I'll Sell You a Dog," by Juan Pablo Villalobos. It was a running gag about the dogs-for-tacos trade in the capital. The book was fiction but apparently some folks in Mexico City believe dog meat tacos are for real. Félix doubts it.

Tacos stuffed with various parts of a cow's head, or tacos de cabeza, definitely are sold in the capital. Specialty head tacos might be sesos (brains); lengua (tongue); cachete (cheek); trompa (lips) and even ojos (eyes).

There's hardly anything more phony or arbitrary than picky eating and I am a repeat offender.

At a la-di-dah restaurant in Mexico City several years ago I sampled, with great hesitation, beef carpaccio, which is seasoned raw meat, as an appetizer. It was tasty though now I wonder which part of the cow it came from, or if it was a cow at all. 

In Iceland, I was put off by horse meat but readily ordered beef. I once argued, lamely, that horses looked noble and friendly, not suitable for eating. But what about our bovine friends? Granted, they don't look too bright but cows can hardly be considered conniving or perfidious.

Pork, which I really like, comes from an animal that is supposed to be quite bright and friendly, and even cute in the right light. I almost gagged, though, when a restaurant in San Miguel served me suckling pig which I realized, too late, was a tiny baby pig, with hardly enough meat to bother eating.

Try it, you'll like it. 
In Iceland we also took a pass on eating puffin, an adorable quail-size bird that Icelanders consume with gusto. We opted instead for chicken, which have more meat and are not as lovable.

It wasn't until a month ago that I sampled octopus, which I had avoided because the sight of their suction cups turned me off. I finally cut a piece off a small octopus, looked away and put it in my mouth. It was good.

Stew and I have been trying to broaden our menus, with Stew way ahead of me so far.

He even ate guinea pig in Peru, though he had the kitchen debone it to avoid the traditional road-kill presentation of a little animal only slightly larger than a rat, feet and all, its eyes staring at you from the plate.

With some disgust on his face Stew confirmed that yes, it tasted like chicken. I took his word for it.

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