It was lunchtime and we were in Bucerias. The street vendor on the plaza, the one who sells tacos filled with cabeza –beef head parts of tongue, lip, cheek, eye and brain — had caught my eye before, but we had never stopped to try his delicacies. We knew from past experience how good tongue tacos can be, so it was time to pull up a couple of plastic chairs on the curb and tuck in.
Before you get all squishy about this, remember that our food choices are cultural. Where we were born, what our moms dished up, which foods we associate with good times, what we can afford — all these factors collaborate to form our ideas of acceptable food. If Mom didn’t serve tongue tacos for lunch, Mexico will provide the opportunity to rectify this cultural gap.
Eating all parts of the animal is customary in Mexico. We have tried all of the following, though I will admit Russ sometimes did the tasting for both of us: cow tails, chicken feet, goat heads, intestines (menudo), brains, sopa de medula (spinal cord soup). The latter was served to us in a rather fancy restaurant in the interior of Mexico. I passed. This might have been during one of my vegetarian periods, so I had a good excuse. Russ said it was tasty. Somewhere along the trail, we (meaning Russ, but I include myself by association) also had brains with peas, which he recalls tasting funky. “It didn’t blow my hair back”. Very little goes to waste, an economy you have to appreciate in a country where so many live on so little.
Only tongue, lips, brains and surtido (assorted), were available today. We each ordered tongue tacos. Today’s limited menu saved me from having to try eyeball tacos for journalistic purposes, but Russ reports from a past experience that such a taco contains one cooked, chopped cow eyeball, adding, “It’s OK.” Today, he also ordered a lip taco, which I tasted, but didn’t like as much as the tongue.
The tacos were served with chopped onion and cilantro, which we were assured had been washed with Microdyn, and a flavorful picante tomatillo salsa. There was also salsa without chile, but the picante version was not overly hot and was very good.
I recommend the tacos con lengua (tongue) with hot salsa. At nine pesos apiece, two or three tacos make a reasonably priced lunch, with a beautiful view of Banderas Bay thrown in for free. This is street eating at its finest.
If you have room for dessert, ice cream is a one minute walk away at La Michoacana.
Scenes from Bucerias to enjoy, as you walk around eating your ice cream…