Friday, April 8, 2011

Taco Friday

Based on my (pitifully few) blog entries, you might conclude that I'm obsessed with Mexican food.  I've mentioned tacos four times as often as I have the legendary actor/director/producer Clint Eastwood, after all, and anything that gets more column space than Dirty Harry must rank pretty high up there.  I also have to confess that I do love me some plastic spoon tamarind candies:

However, I would like to state for the record that it is this town--and not me--with the fixation on Mexican food.  In fact, if you were to distill Grand Forks cuisine into one base recipe, I believe it would read something like this:

1. Take a carbohydrate, preferably one fried.
2. Top it with taco meat, preferably of the Taco Bell variety.
3. Optional: Add Cheddar cheese, jalapeño peppers, or mild salsa.

Taco in a bag obviously falls into this category.  So does the food at Taco John's, where I recently ordered a taco with a side of Potato Olés (I think the accent mark over olé adds an air of authenticity to what is a dish of tater tots topped with nacho cheese).

But the grand poobah of the North Dakotan take on the taco is the Grinder, a deli sandwich found at Red Pepper.

There, they take a turkey or ham sandwich, use what looks like a frosting spatula to smear taco meat and some kind of sweetened mayonnaise on top, sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over all of that, and arrange it all on a paper plate.

The result, I have to say, is not my favorite of the taco creations on offer here, but the restaurant is charmingly quaint.  I can also understand the Grinder's appeal to people who were weaned on them or to college students who just had a few beers at one of the frat houses a block down the road.  Actually, I think I could see the appeal even more if the chefs put a Cheez-Whiz–like nacho sauce on top, like Taco John does with the tater tot. In fact, since I just signed up as a Potato Olés Maniac on the Taco Johns website, I just might have to go redeem my free bowl of Mexicanized tater tots now.

1 comment:

  1. that sounds incredibly delicious. Tater tots are amazing. Also cheese on top. You don't have to qualify it all the time, we midwesterners certainly don't, it's just cheese. Ironic that we make really really good cheese (take a road trip to Wisconsin and stop whenever a handpainted sign is advertising gouda) and we still call fake cheese cheese too.