Ah, spring. It’s a time to pick flowers; to feed ducks; to write that bestselling autobiographical book; and to TACO TRUCK.
I’m sorry, what was I saying?
Yes, you know it’s spring in Southwest Detroit when the taco trucks set up shop in the parking lots. Sure, the proprietors might not always speak the best English, but don’t worry – you don’t have to be Diego Luna’s character from Casa de mi Padre, cussing out Americans for their deathly addictions to heroin and pasta. If you can pronounce the words “taco” and “quesadilla” with reasonable accuracy, you’re ready to enter this heavenly world of Mexican cuisine.
The formula is simple. I’ve gone over it a 1,000 times, but here’s a quick refresher: 1. Take a warm corn tortilla. 2. Throw on some fresh, seasoned meat (garlic, cumin, oregano, and chili peppers are the go-to flavors), cilantro, and diced onions. 3. Garnish plate or tinfoil with sliced radishes and a lemon or lime slice. 4. Serve with red or green salsa. Occasionally, a few variations – like spicy pickled carrots – are thrown it, but that’s it.
And God, it’s so, so much better than Taco Bell. It makes the value menu look like a crime against humanity. $1.25 for a chorizo taco? Are you kidding me?
Really, there’s nothing like a soft breeze, the warm sunshine, and a cheap taco on a busy street. It’s all about atmosphere – the swift, studied movements of the cook at his expertly prepped grill station, the happy people laughing and talking outside as wonderful aromas waft through the air, and the money swiftly changing hands. It’s about as poetic as food gets.
On the next nice day, take a leisurely cruise down Vernor or Springwells and find yourself a taco truck. You’ll thank me later.
It’s not everyday you see a legit hawker in Detroit. It’s strangely reassuring to find him here, so far away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan’s Times Square or Chicago’s Loop. Like maybe – maybe – this is a normal city. Never mind that I’m at a taco truck outside a liquor store.
“Look, I got Ralph Lauren polos for $10. Y’all ain’t up on this Ralph Lauren? I know y’all up on this!”
He’s got a clean shave and fresh white shoes on, and the polo is still wrapped and even has the iconic Ralph Lauren polo player embroidered on it, so you know it’s real. Maybe I should get up on this.
“What about cologne? I got cologne. You gotta smell right.”
He looks at my girlfriend.
“C’mon, you ain’t ever buy cologne? Stay away from him!”
Come to think of it, I forgot to put deodorant on this morning.