Mex masters spice it up

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

THERE was a time in Aus­tralia when the pie man was an in­sti­tu­tion and in­ner- city streets re­sounded to the cries of muffi n men, ven­dors with cof­fee urns kept hot over char­coal and oth­ers hawk­ing such del­i­ca­cies as pig’s trot­ters, saveloys, dim sims, fresh prawns and oys­ters in bot­tles.

Of course, those days have long gone and, un­like our Asian neigh­bours and many other parts of the world, ex­cept for our char­ity sausage siz­zles, Aus­tralia has in re­cent decades not been big on street food.

But times are a- chang­ing. Rapidly, it seems, all driven by to­day’s ubiq­ui­tous so­cial me­dia.

There’s now even a web­site, www. where­thetruck. at that shows a mul­ti­tude of pop- up street kitchens and vans around the coun­try with de­tails of where and when they’re serv­ing.

Com­bine this with the trendiest of trendy food – Mex­i­can – and you have Ho­bart’s Taco Taco, Chris Quinn and Matt Hid­ding’s colour­ful kitchen van which, de­pend­ing on the night, you’ll fi nd on the park­ing aprons of Freedom Fur­ni­ture ( from about 6pm) or Bob and Tom’s Garage ( from about 7.30pm) on the cor­ner of Ham­p­den and Sandy Bay roads, in Bat­tery Point.

In ad­di­tion to cush­ions for the up­turned milk crate seat­ing, real Cholula, jalapeno and ha­banera chilli sauces and Mex­i­can soft drinks, what they pro­vide are cheap, fresh, quick and de­li­cious soft- shell tacos fi lled with pulled pork, chicken mar­i­nated in achiote/ an­natto paste and black beans, all with a va­ri­ety of ac­com­pa­ny­ing fi llings and dress­ings.

Since nei­ther has been to Mex­ico, they re­sist us­ing the word “au­then­tic”, pre­fer­ring in­stead to de­scribe their food as “light, sim­ple and tasty”.

But their tacos, es­pe­cially the one with black beans, are as good, if not quite as spicy hot, as any I en­joyed ear­lier this year on the streets of Mex­ico City.

Best of all, you can taste real corn in ev­ery bite, from the im­ported Mex­i­can corn masa they use to hand- make their shells.

For­get corn chips and su­per­mar­ket tor­tillas, th­ese are the real thing and at just $ 5 each they are also fan­tas­tic value.

Most im­por­tantly, as the ul­ti­mate con­clu­sion to the decades- long trend to­wards the cheaper, more re­laxed democrati­sa­tion of Aus­tralian din­ing, eat­ing at Taco Taco is fun.

As it is too at such other lo­cal taco vans/ stands as Cocina de Mama, which has done a few ir­reg­u­lar pop- up gigs around town, Lucky Loco’s, which de­buted at this year’s Taste Fes­ti­val and ap­pears reg­u­larly around the events/ fes­ti­val cir­cuit, and Olli- Bella which will next be pre­sent­ing its ex­cel­lent Cal/ Mex tacos at Dark MoFo.

And, while en­forc­ing strict com­mer­cial food prepa­ra­tion and kitchen re­quire­ments, the Ho­bart City Coun­cil is to be con­grat­u­lated for sen­si­bly tak­ing a more en­light­ened ap­proach to where and how in pub­lic our food is served.

Look around the city and there is any num­ber of suit­able pub­lic spa­ces that could be en­livened by a food, fruit and vegie, cof­fee, roasted chest­nuts or fl ower van.

With a bit of luck, Taco Taco and the oth­ers might just be the fi rst.

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