I grew up in Texas and practically lived on Mexican food. My mom made it at home and we ate it when we went out for dinner. As I got older and money was in short supply, my friends and I ate at every type of Mexican restaurant that exists. We ate in fine dining Mexican restaurants when we were flush and at the lowliest 5-table café when we weren’t and it was all good. It was also all beef. Tacos, enchiladas or burritos were almost always made with beef with only a little chicken or pork offered—but rarely accepted—in lieu of beef. It was widely accepted that chicken or pork was there for the benefit of the more delicate ladies among us.
My first experience with something radically different was when I was driving through Denver in 1976. I saw a large sign above a drive-up restaurant that shouted “Fish Tacos.” I’m a strong man but still, it was like being struck by a meteor. I came perilously close to losing control of the vehicle and upon regaining my senses, found myself far away down the one-way street. I assumed I had misread the sign and continued on for a couple of blocks.
Still, I was shaken to the core and upon regaining my equilibrium, immediately found a turnaround and doubled back. I owed it to myself to reaffirm that indeed, the sign did not read “Fish Tacos” and all was still right with the universe.
The sign did read “Fish Tacos” and the universe was instantly plunged into total chaos. After sitting in the car for a while, I calmed down and convinced myself to go inside to learn more about this new wrinkle in my belief system.
I learned that fish tacos were made by grilling the fish, flaking and placing it on warm tortillas. It was then covered with the sauce of choice.
I was unable to deny everything I believed in and left without ordering one.
Since then, some 37 years later, I see restaurants featuring fish tacos as part of their daily offerings, even in Texas.
I still order beef.