Renewing our FM3 residency documents is about as much fun as going to the dentist. Long lines, interminable waits, looking for the nearest copy machine when we are told we don’t have every copy of every piece of paper required, the trip to the bank to stand in another line to pay the fee, back to the immigration office … all necessary to be legal residents of Mexico. Finding Taco Cuervo so close to the immigration office was one very pleasant part of this whole operation.
Taco Cuervo in Bucieras, Nayarit, is one of thousands of street carts in Mexico selling quick, cheap food. After years of eating at almost every one we ever encountered when hungry– and it is easy to feel suddenly starving while walking past a street cart and smell chile-inspired cooking aromas — we gave up the habit after a number of upset tummy incidents, deciding they were not the most sanitary source of good eats in Mexico. Common sense prevailed, when I realized all we had to do was question the vendor as to how the fresh veggies were disinfected. Now I know to ask, “Usa cloro o microdyn para limpiar las veduras?” “Do you use clorox or Microdyn to clean the vegetables?”
I phrase the question so that the answer can’t be yes or no, as in, “Do you disinfect the vegetables?” Given the Mexican propensity to usually answer agreeably, we will often receive “Yes” as an answer, even if it is not the case. By asking a specific question, I get a specific answer, and this time I was told, “Uso microdyn porque no me gusta el sabor de cloro en las veduras.” “I use microdyn because I don’t like the taste of clorox on the vegetables.” This was exactly what I wanted to hear, so Russ and I wasted no time sitting down and ordering a taco de lengua (tongue) and a quesadilla.
Elvia, the cook, took a knob of masa, formed a ball, and pressed out a perfect tortilla in about ten seconds. For those of you who have never tried to make a uniformly round tortilla, this isn’t as easy as it looks. I know, because I once struggled to make perfectly round tortillas while the six-year granddaughter of my instructor whipped out geometrically perfect tortillas, laughing as she watched my efforts. Or maybe she was really laughing at my results.
Alondra, Elvia’s ten year old daughter, garnished my taco with cilantro, then handed it and the quesadilla to us so we could choose from six different, freshly made salsas. Elvia explained that the best salsas are made with a molcajete, a large stone bowl made from basalt, but that she had so many salsas to make each morning, she used a blender. Modern Mexican cooks love their blenders and I don’t blame them for preferring the ease and speed.
It is common to see children working alongside their parents at small, Mexican businesses, be they food carts, hardware stores, or pharmacies. Their help with the family income is important, but this can sometimes be disconcerting when you see a thirteen-year old filling prescriptions or serving beer.
Filling choices for tacos and quesadillas are lengua, chorizo, asado de res (grilled beef), carne adovado (beef marinated in a spicy adovado sauce), cheese, and peruano beans. Chopped cabbage, onions and cilantro are added as garnishes. You get to add salsas. The only difference I could see between the tacos and quesadillas is that the quesadillas are much larger, have cheese and are folded over on the grill. Both are made with corn tortillas and both can have any of the same filling choices.
Taco Cuervo is located on Avenida La Palmas at the intersection with Heroe de Nacozari, the main highway through Bucerias. It is right across from the Oxxo convenience store. Elvia opens for business every day of the week except Sunday, with hours from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
- Tacos de Cabeza on the Plaza in Bucerias (cookinginmexico.com)
- How to Clean and Disinfect Fruits and Vegetables in Mexico (cookinginmexico.com)
- Seasoning a New Molcajete — It’s a Grind (cookinginmexico.com)