National Taco Day

It's National Taco Day here in the U.S. and to celebrate, we're sharing a story and a recipe from our book, Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day.

David Ansel
David Ansel, The Soup Peddler

Tell us about yourself and your connection with Austin…and the breakfast taco.

I’m David Ansel, aka the Soup Peddler. I’m from Baltimore, so Mexican food for me as a kid was pretty pathetic. I remember the most common dish being a chimichanga, which to this day I believe is a made-up word. Our Mexican chain restaurant also served fried ice cream, which is of course an age-old interior Mexican tradition. So the Mexican food and Tex-Mex was a revelation when I moved to Texas, and I can now say that I would eat tacos every day if my wife would let me. The breakfast taco has eclipsed the bagel as the great breakfast food of my life. It’s the ultimate. Protein-packed, spicy, lots of great variations, portable, cheap, always a crowd-pleaser. Whenever you need to feed a bunch of people breakfast, it’s the only way to go. My introduction was at Maria’s Taco Express, which is still beloved to me. However, my heart was won over by a now-closed place called Nueva Onda. When I broke the news to my daughter that our favorite taco place was closing, it was a very touching moment. I said, “Mia, Nueva Onda is going to close, and we will not be able to go there anymore. We are going to go one last time.” Her eyes welled up with tears, and she literally stiffened her upper lip and suppressed the wave of emotion. I thought of all the bygone places in my mind, so indelibly etched. I thought of how permanent and formative childhood memories are, that this would be one of her memories, that it would form in some way what food means to her, what Austin means to her. I wonder if this would be her childhood taco against which all other tacos would be compared. Her tears touched me because they were about impermanence, and I thought, “May this be your greatest loss.” As the bygone downtown graffiti on the railroad bridge said, “Life Is Change. Be Flexible.” There is really no greater truth. Life is change; permanence is the heart’s peculiar folly.

Breakfast Taco With "That Green Sauce"

What is your favorite breakfast taco and why?

Egg, potato, bacon and cheese on flour with salsa roja and jalapeño puree (whatever that green stuff is called). That’s fluffy scrambled egg, one full slice of thick-cut bacon, hand-shredded (not pre-shredded) cheddar and well-browned individual threeeighths- inch cubes of potato. You have the fresh herb-y sweet fruitiness of the red sauce; the unctuous heat of the jalapeño sauce; the crisp saltiness of the bacon; the starchy filling-ness of the potato; the pillowy savoriness of the egg; the soft, dry, reassuring warmth of the flour tortilla—pretty tough to beat.

Do you make your own salsas?

I don’t have recipes for a verde salsa, but Mando made that green stuff pretty perfect (see below). My personal red sauce recipe is to puree 1 jalapeño with 1 clove garlic and a very large handful of cilantro, then puree in one well-drained 15-ounce can of tomatoes, the juice from half a lime and quite a bit of salt.

Mando’s “That Green Sauce” Recipe

Step One: Get yourself a plethora of chiles. I prefer jalapeños, but you can add some poblanos si no eres un macho (ignore the red ones).

Step Dos: Boil ’em till it hurts. The chiles should be nice and limp before you take them out. You can also roast and peel them.

Step Three: Put ’em in the blender and add the ingredients, which is pretty simple. Salt to taste, and the secret sauce is…canola oil! No, it’s not avocados or sour cream or cheese. It’s straight up canola oil. That’s what makes the salsa crème de la crème.

Step Four: Pour it in your favorite bowl and go to town on it!

You can also bottle it and try to sell it to H-E-B. I was thinking about it, but who has the time? I got tacos to eat! Sazz y Pazz, there ya go!

For more from Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day check out the book!

Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Most Important Taco of the Day

Images and text reprinted from  Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day  by Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece [Pgs. 56-58, American Palate, A Division of The History Press, 2013.]