Anytime the weight of the pandemic felt too heavy, street tacos brought me comfort. Fish tacos, street tacos, and vegan tacos became my lifeline. Like a priest during a baptism, I’d christen the tacos, black beans, and rice with a spritz of lime juice.
I gave thanks for the small freakin’ sense of calm street tacos brought my shipwrecked world.
When the quarantine felt endless, I’d double my taco order and add a side of queso. Then I’d pour a strong margarita and self-medicate on the carbs, queso, and Cuervo. A mini food coma would soon wash over me allowing me to daydream about sharing this meal with friends, with family, with anyone but my husband and cats.
Mental health therapists encourage clients with anxiety or depression to ground themselves by finding objects in the room that engage their five senses. Most therapists keep a stock of essentials oils, not tacos on hand, but tacos work for me.
I start my food therapy by tuning into the crunch of the Tortilla chips and the smell of the marinated meat, onions, and peppers. Then I pause to appreciate the color of the lime wedge and how it pops next to the white rice and orange and red speckled queso.
Next, I shove a half taco into my mouth sans utensils and taste both the sweetness and heat. I forego napkin and feel the juices drip down my chin. It’s an all-sensory experience equivalent to a three-year-old eating a smash cake during a birthday party.
Somehow, the world will feel less like a hot mess when you can go primal on a mess of tacos. Mess is the Old French term for “a portion of food” and then there’s the reference to the mess hall in military terms. My home resembled a mess hall during the covid’s peak. Snacks, chocolates, and empty takeout containers lay rampant.
Binging on street tacos during a pandemic is purely medicinal. Tacos will boost your serotonin, waistline, and a feeling of belonging to something other than a tier of people yet to be vaccinated. Weekly taco doses give life order.
Street Tacos Saved Me
Getting my regular street taco fix was instrumental in helping me heal from the loss of my job, loss of my yoga practice, and more importantly, the loss of my Kansas City friends taken by the coronavirus.
Waking up the morning after with onion breath is no longer an annoyance, it was a rite of passage into our strange new world. A world without hugs, handshakes, office banter or travel, or weddings without proof of vaccination. A new world dependent on computer screens, meal kits, homeschooling, and learning weird hashtags like #WFH #lockdown and #pandemicsurvival.
Like Jesus, street tacos remain my bread, my water, and my pseudo rosary beads. I touch them, one by one, and give thanks for the sustenance, the warmth, and the hope they give me to push through.
Bless you, Summit Grill, Taco Republic, Luna Azteca Mexican Grill, Cafe Gratitude and Summit Taco for providing a taste of normalcy during the pandemic.
While I supported your business with my endless street taco orders, you saved me. Truly.
Damn Delicious Street Taco Recipe
I couldn’t leave you without a great home recipe for street tacos. This recipe is from the Damn Delicious food blogger. Enjoy.
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 12 mini flour tortillas, warmed
- 3/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, lime juice, 1 tablespoon canola oil, garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano.
- In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine soy sauce mixture and steak; marinate for at least 1 hour up to 4 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add steak and marinade, and cook, stirring often, until steak has browned and marinade has reduced, about 5-6 minutes, or until desired doneness.
- Serve steak in tortillas, topped with onion, cilantro and lime.
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