"My culture is a very dominant culture, and it's imposing and it's causing problems," warned Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, in a recent MSNBC interview. "If you don't do something about it, you're going to have taco trucks on every corner."
So now we’re being threatened with taco trucks. “On every corner!” The response to this latest us-against-them lunacy has been deservedly hilarious. Talk show monologues, Facebook memes and T-shirts have all embraced the impending wealth of taco choices.
We have, too. Our new old house is in Pilsen, a predominantly Mexican neighborhood in Chicago. So our taco choices are many and varied. Still, when I walked to the neighborhood hardware store this past weekend (I’m building yet another bookcase, this one just for cookbooks) and was handed a flyer for a new taqueria opening right up the street, I of course had to stop and read the menu in the window. And when I shared the menu with Marion, we of course had to order lunch there.
The photo above shows my lunch, a Yucatan-style Cochinita Pibil with pulled pork, pickled red onions and habanero salsa, and a Lomo with grilled ribeye, salsa ranchera and huge grilled green onions. Marion had a fish taco with beer-battered tilapia, smoked red cabbage, scallions and sriracha tartar sauce, and an Arabe, a Lebanese-influenced taco grilled Puebla-style, with marinated pork and chipotle salsa.
They were every bit as delicious as they sound. Fresh and complex. This new place is El Taco Azteca Restaurant. The rustic wood benches and tables gleam with fresh polyurethane, and the whole place shows evidence more of hard work and love than of a big cash investment.
That said, it’s a safe bet that the owners have everything invested in this place – their own money and that of relatives, I would guess. The restaurant business is a hard one. I hope they make a go of it. As Marion said, they will certainly have our custom on a regular basis.
I’m sure it’s a coincidence that El Taco Azteca Restaurant opened on Labor Day weekend. The opening was undoubtedly driven by equipment being installed, permits finally being issued, flyers being printed. But it being Labor Day weekend made me think about the taco truck scare, the latest salvo in the “THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE YOUR JOBS” frightfest.
On that Saturday afternoon, we didn’t see anyone taking anyone’s jobs. Instead, we saw four people – none of them US born – making jobs. Four jobs for now, but with persistence and luck, probably more. This is the America I love. The one that recognizes that most of us are here because someone came from somewhere else before us. The one that welcomes hard work and new ideas, wherever they come from.