Tacos, American-Italian Style

Tonight, together with some friends, I made “tacos” (apologies to my Mexican friends) – by which I mean, “tacos” as we understood them to be when I was growing up, back in the days when we thought that Taco Bell was Mexican food.

But being in Italy, they also had an Italian twist, as it’s practically impossible to get all the right ingredients here.

When I was a kid, American-style tacos (Old El Paso®, crispy shells, etc.) was one of my favorite meals. It still is.

As for the taco seasoning mix and the cheddar cheese, I imported that last time I went home. (How I miss cheddar!) I still have two packs of taco seasoning mix left, but after tonight’s meal we’re pretty much out of cheese, so next time we’ll have to figure out which Italian cheese to use that will not be too awful as a substitute. Some photos follow.

Some of the raw ingredients:

The store had one bag of the white corn tortilla chips left, and then those creepy yellow corn ones with the weird guy photoshopped into a sombrero on the package. Sour cream here is called “panna acida” and it is sort of like our sour cream.

This time, the supermarket actually had ground beef (though it was from France and Spain…); last time we made them, they only had a ground beef/pork combo. Meat in the US is much better/less questionable…

I had some Old El Paso mix but this time I used some of the Ortega packets that I brought. Those packs of beef are a bit over a 1/2 lb. Yes, that price you see there for one pack in euros works out to roughly $5.00 when you convert it.

I don’t recall ever seeing Uncle Bens Mexican foods back home, but here they are one of the main brands for “Mexican” stuff – when the grocery store has it, and then, should they actually have it, if they have enough of it, etc. It’s generally difficult to get foreign foods here without going to a specialty shop and/or paying an arm and a leg:

Flour tortillas. I don’t recall ever seeing corn tortillas here.

The healthy stuff:

It’s impossible to find sliced black olives here, so far as I can tell, but at least they have these cans of black olives with the pits removed, which we then sliced. The only way I have seen iceberg lettuce here is chopped and bagged as a convenience item. I am pretty sure that Italians would generally be against iceberg lettuce, and stores probably carry it for those darn foreigners.

A wonderful smell:

I didn’t add any wine to it.

The table is set. That wine is rather fancy (don’t be fooled, that doesn’t mean expensive) for this food, but it’s what I had on hand:

“I’ll take this bowl of cheddar cheese and you all can eat the other things.”

Time to eat:

There’s those creepy chips again. And yes, Uncle Ben’s makes salsa for sale in Italy.

I mostly had taco salad, while my friends worked through the soft shells:

That lettuce? A garnish.

Some traditional things to help digest everything afterwards (always in moderation!):

Nice and cold.

Eating international food, or more specifically, stuff from home, tends to be a real treat here, since the Italian culinary culture is fairly closed (though it is slowly changing), and one does tend to tire of pasta, risotto, veal cutlets, etc.!

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