Taco Fiestas – Warming Up Expats
Tacos are the numero uno (number one) go-to food for any Mexican food fiesta celebration or family gathering. With so many ways to prepare tacos, we can enjoy them with almost any meal.
You’ll always find them at celebratory gatherings, laid out buffet-style, bringing family and friends together.
Add a little Mariachi music in the background, and Expats become family at these Latin American taco fiestas!
Mexican homes usually serve the ingredients in separate dishes buffet-style, allowing guests to load up on their favorite food choices.
Prepare an open-faced taco salad on your tortilla, as a Tostada to eat with a fork, or fold a stuffed tortilla in half with all the fixings, and your taco will be ready to eat single-handedly.
Taco Fiestas: Precooked Meat Combinations
Precooked meats are the heart of the taco and can include beef, chicken, or pork. Ground meats can be pan-fried, where roasts can be slow-cooked and the meat pulled apart with forks as in shredding. Barbecued meats can be cooled and then diced for tacos, and even seafood can be used, as in fish tacos.
Taco Fiestas: Grated Cheese Selections
Did you know cheese and other dairy products are used in Mexican dishes to absorb some of the heat in spicy foods? For this reason, I like to use a variety of grated cheeses, for color, texture, and heat absorption.
There is mild “Jack” cheese (or queso blanco), a spicier “Pepper-Jack” cheese with tiny bits of Jalapeño peppers, a sharp orange “Cheddar” cheese, and a mild orange “Longhorn” cheese. Some markets sell packages of grated “Mexican Cheese” which is merely a combination of the milder orange and white cheeses listed.
Taco Fiestas: Side Dishes and Toppings
This is where the fun begins! The add-ons are what make the taco buffet table interesting, and encourage conversation between family, friends, and new acquaintances. Include fresh veggies, prepared sides, salsas, dressings, and toppings.
Side Dishes: Must-Haves
The favorite side dishes of the taco buffet are, of course, Mexican-seasoned rice, and either cooked chili beans or black beans, which can be mashed and become refried beans.
These are always served warm. Some people even put these into their tacos, but if not, they are the standard side dishes of every Mexican meal.
Fresh Veggies: To Lighten the Load
Every taco-food buffet will include some sort of salad fixings, cut-to-fit inside a taco. For example, lettuce and cabbage are shredded, onions and tomatoes are diced, cilantro and chives are chopped, hot peppers are sliced, carrots are grated – you get the idea.
Mexican Toppings: Free-for-All
The standard Mexican toppings are always red tomato salsa and guacamole (mashed avocado) dip, and chips. Every other topping is just for fun; such as olives, marinated Jalapeño pepper slices or artichoke hearts, chopped onions, pickled beet strips, sour cream, ranch dip, and taco salad dressings.
Taco Fiestas: The Finished Product
Although your results will be different, the taco was designed to fit in your hand and to enjoy, regardless of the fact your ingredients will fall out of the tortilla and onto your plate.
If that happens to you, laugh it off, because it happens to everyone, and it could even encourage new fun friendships.
Happy Taco Fiestas! And while you’re at it, check out my article Spicy Breakfast Delicacies Made in Mexico for even more mouth-watering Mexican food specialties.
Tell us about the traditional foods where you’ve landed, and which are the best meals to share with new friends.
by: Cheri Majors, M.S.