Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Talking Texican Taco

My Spanish is sadly almost non-existent, but in honor of our newest strain of culinary cultcha, I am learning to speak rudimentary Taco. I'm not quite up to speed. "Fajitas" is beef;* I've got that. But I've been getting tripped up by the whole "carnitas" / "pastor" thing. I'm now coming to understand that they're both (at least usually) pork, and it's a difference of preparation. What's the difference?

And I'm not sure how universal this terminology is.** We're talking Texican taco here. Is there a tacologist in the house? Can anyone from the Big-Britched Land to the West shed some light on the subject?

* And "lengua" is tongue. And "chicharron" is pork rind. (I first came to know chicharron as the delicious, crispy little things served at Pupuseria Divino Corazon, the fantastic—and sadly, still closed since the storm—Honduran restaurant on the West Bank. The chicharron served at the taco stands is a different beast: soft, fatty, and globule-like. I can't claim they're my favorite.)

** The first couple of
Google hits for "pork pastor" talk about pineapple. There's definitely no pineapple involved in any of the tacos I've had.


  1. Anonymous6:44 PM

    the way I've seen it written is "al pastor". Here's a definition found on google:
    "A term used in Spanish and Italian referring to a dish cooked in the style of shepherd cooking, usually vertically over a grill or spit."

  2. this is what I've gleaned from living in SF (NM) and SF (CA):

    (only listing things I've tried)

    carne asada = grilled beef steak
    carnitas = marinated porck shoulder, slow-roasted
    al pastor = usually pork, marinated and rotisseried w/ onion & pineapple on one of these star-trek lookin' things: http://primco.org/photo/images/13_san_francisco/el_farolito.3.jpg
    barbacoa = "barbecued"
    pollo = chicken
    pescados = fish
    camarones = shrimp

    the fun stuff:
    machitos = tripe
    menudo = tripe soup
    cabeza = beef cheeks
    lengua = beef tongue
    sesos = beef brains

    the dishes (assuming you know what tacos, burritos, and enchiladas are):
    torta = "mexi-sandwich," grilled french-style roll w/ choice of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, beans, guacamole, and sour cream. I have seen these in NOLA as "cuban sandwiches."
    quesadilla suiza = basically the same as above, grilled a large flour tortilla instead of bread.

    cebollitas = fried green onions
    curtido = pickled veggies (carrots, onions, radishes, jalapenos)

  3. Anonymous7:46 PM

    This link helped me. Then again, what little I know I learned from watching Rick Bayless.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Anonymous9:02 AM

    ask Robert when you see him at Thoth on Sunday. He'll give you an earful. At least on the San Diego distinction. I usually prefer beef or chicken so I can't answer this one.