Taco Tour Columbia: Part 3

I have a couple more stops on my Columbia taco adventure: two more stops. One of them came recommended by a local news source, and the other came from general recommendations.

The first place I went to was La Cabaña, a restaurant purportedly Honduran and Mexican. It is not Mexican. I did not want to eat their tacos. I just. Could Not. I had some pupusas, which were amazing, and the friends – G, N and S – I went with (who I met through the CTE on campus) ordered other things. Some of them looked better than others. I would not really go back there. Like ever.


These are pupusas. They were ok.

Then, yesterday I went to Real México. I’ve been to this restaurant a couple of times. It is the most highly recommended Mexican food place. This is based on me telling people I study Mexico and like tacos, and them immediately asking if I’ve been to Real Mexico. I had three tacos: lengua, pastor and carne asada. Lengua was the best, carne asada was a second. The pastor was not good. Other people that I went with seemed to enjoy their margaritas. I was going to roller derby practice so I decided to stick to water. The parking there is a bit treacherous, especially if you arrive later than we did (5:30), so be forewarned. I think this is pretty good but I am still looking for my true taco home.

I did not eat the jalapeño

Tacos: lengua, al pastor, carne asada

Taco Tour Columbia, Part 2

Ever since I started this taco tour plan, my life has become full of delicious food. This is not a coincidence.

Earlier this week, I went to Casa Oaxaca (West Columbia) with some new friends who I had met while volunteering, A and P. To be fair, I had only met one of them, but they seemed into my idea so off we went. The food was quite good. I had a taco de cabeza, which is hard to come by here (sidebar: in the Southern US, people eat all the parts of the pig. I feel like it should be easier to market tacos de lengua, cabeza, and so on, here, than it is). I took no pictures because I basically inhaled them. The evidence is below.

Salsas were ok

The remains of my tacos

I have also gone to an unmarked taquería next to the Mercado Acapulco, also in West Columbia. It was life-changingly delicious. I had tacos al pastor, carne asada (beef) and lengua (pretty good). They had a salsa bar, with a selection of limes, onions, cilantro, and so on. Highly recommend. The tortas here looked tasty. The tamales in the mercado next door are high on my list to try, as is whatever someone was smoking in the parking lot (ie cooking in a smoker).

You should eat these

So good.

Moral of this story: West Columbia is the place for tacos. It has a truly truly excellent taco truck as well (El Jarocho) – recommended by a friend, E. I would go back there as part of the summer round of taco tour, but it’s so hot I would have to eat the tacos in my car and that’s just sad. So, I will return there later.

Taco Tour Columbia, South Carolina

I have returned from my summer travels and am now in a new life project: local taco tour. So far, I have convinced two sets of friends to accompany me on this adventure. I hope to convince more people in the near future so stay tuned for further reports.

The first place I went to was called Taquería Guadalajara. It is conveniently located near a fancy neighborhood, and thus, a fancy Goodwill. My friend J arrived before I did, so she got 20 more minutes of mind-numbingly loud music. The tacos were good (even the tacos al pastor) and they were also cheap so I would probably go back there. The gross dude at the table next to us who decided to ruin the experience with a piropo (blech) should not go back there. I also thought there was a tip jar at the counter but it was actually a donation jar, so watch out for that if you go there.


The next place I went was better. It is called El Salto, and the friends, C and T, who had been there before, recommended it. The downside was that I had to get a taco “plate” so I could only try one kind of tacos. The upside was that the plate of carnitas tacos cost $10, and it included a side of rice and beans. And was soooooooo good. 10/10 would go back there.


I’ve been to a couple of other places, but I have no pictures of them. So, I will just have to go back.

Archives and Eating in Mexico City

I have been in Mexico City for almost a week and I have no taco related anecdotes to share. The horror! Don’t worry though, I do have multiple anecdotes that pertain to food, public transportation and archives.

This past week I have gone to three different places in search of information. I am doing some research to finish up some article that need work, and some other research for a new project about laws that are supposed to protect human rights (of various kinds) and the way literature and culture show us how they work, and how and why they fail. (Sidebar: If you are interested in similar topics about human rights and memory in South America, check out my colleague Andy’s book.)

To this end, on Tuesday, I went to the UNAM, to go to (I thought) one library and the hemeroteca nacional. I started off strong, read a book, took notes. Then I went to another library. But it was closed for remodeling. I, unfortunately, had only made a note of this book being in a library on the complete other side of the campus. Now I lifestyle inflate myself and take a taxi if I have to go from one place to another rather than wait for a bus. Then I got to the Biblioteca Central, my destination, and they were doing a practice evacuation for an earthquake. Which they were filming. I found what I wanted to find, and then went to the hemeroteca. I had to go to four different places in this library devoted to periodicals (fondo reservado, to look at something from 1911, microfilms, national newspapers, and national magazines). Let’s just say that having done a lot of research in Mexico already really came in handy because I found a bunch of stuff, took notes, took some pictures and went to a coffee shop to meet some friends. I also felt very virtuous and smug for taking public transportation because a good chunk of the main road between the UNAM and the coffee shop was being used by protestors so cars couldn’t get through.

I also successfully conducted research in the Relaciones Exteriores archive, which was uneventful. Hopefully the documents I looked at will be useful. Then, I began to do research in the Archivo General de la Nación (AGN). That was fun (not). Now you have to email your requests ahead of time to the archive. Except that they do not publicize their search system so you have to go there and search. (I have an outdated search engine on my computer, but it is only good for really old stuff.) Then, you can send the email, and then wait three days to see the documents. Unless you are Rebecca, and ask a kind person if there is another way. Which involves filling out a paper, and the documents will arrive the next day. Except that sometimes when you are Rebecca you write things down wrong. Very annoying. The main redeeming aspect of the AGN is that there is extremely delicious comida corrida, and when I told the person at the checkout I had been to his town in rural Mexico State I magically got extra dessert. I call that winning at life.

Taco Tour Veracruz

I left Torreón about a week ago and flew to the city of Veracruz and I have now visited several cities in this state, Veracruz, Córdoba, Yanga, Amatlán, La Patrona, and Xalapa. I visited a couple of them for research purposes and some of them for interest. I ate taco or taco adjacent food in Veracruz, Córdoba and Xalapa.

Veracruz, the first city I visited, is a port city, with weather roughly equivalent to South Carolina. Unlike South Carolina, people walk outside and don’t blast AC everywhere. I visited the city for two reasons: to look at the setting of a famous legend (La mulata de Córdoba) and to go to the beach. I did both. I did not eat any tacos. I did eat tostadas, which are toasted tortillas with some kind of something on top. I had some with shrimp, and some mixed shrimp and ceviche. Highly recommend.

After than, I moved on to the city of Córdoba, to see where this mysterious figure came from. It also turns out that Córdoba is famous for its coffee, so I went to a coffee museum and drank coffee at every possible turn. I did not eat tacos there, but the city is worth mentioning because in my hotel for breakfast I had empanadas that tasted exactly like verenicke, Mennonite perogies (which in parts of Northern Mexico are sold as empanadas menonitas, so I guess it wasn’t that much of a stretch). (They had cheese inside. I was expecting meat, and somehow, even though it was a tortilla shell, it tasted just like fried venericke). I sadly took no pictures of these empanadas.

In Xalapa I have had exceptional taco luck. Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet some people who work to promote human rights, as it pertains to women and girls, in the city of Xalapa. After meeting these people, I happened upon comida corrida (set menu) where tacos were the main.


Then today, I went to see a tomb dedicated originally to land rights activists (agraristas) and which has since been renamed for illustrious residents of the state of Veracruz. After seeing the park where this tomb is located, I had Pakistani tacos.

This has been a great trip so far for many reasons, but tacos, of course, remain # 1.



Taco Tour Torreón

Torreón is a city in the north-central part of the country, about halfway between Ciudad Juarez (which borders El Paso Texas) and Mexico City. I have been to this city before to go to and from La Honda, in Zacatecas. This time I am not seeing any Mennonites, nor am I, sadly, eating any delicious Mennonite food. I am, however, eating delicious food.

I have found time in between my trips to archives and museums to eat gorditas and tacos. On Thursday, I went to the local “Casa de Cultura Jurídica,” which is essentially a small library, archives and information area affiliated with the national supreme court. The archives were remarkably efficient and so I was able to examine multiple documents – dealing with the massacre of Chinese descendant people in 1911- in a short period of time. (I’m writing about an excellent novel that upends the traditional historical discourse on these events, Julián Herbert’s La casa del dolor ajeno). This left me more time to see museums and also eat delicious food. Below, you will see some gorditas. They are kind of like pupusas, as in, they are thick tortillas filled with things. They are made slightly differently, and are very tasty. Since I ate in, I got to have coke from a glass bottle. After that I went to the Museum of the Revolution, to see what it had to say about the massacre.


Gorditas La Pestaña

The next day, I went to go see a museum, Casa de Cultura Arocena. I was interested in seeing what this museum said about the same events. The museum was well done, and the narrative arc of Mexican history included African descendant people (something I have not seen in other Mexican museums in Mexico). It also had an “annex,” which is a building that used to be the Chinese bank, which I also wanted to see. The inside was renovated but the outside may have preserved some of its original facade. Inside, of the Russell annex there was a new exhibit on soccer. Since one Torreón’s stadiums was called “La casa del dolor ajeno” so this was interesting to me. (The Russek family that donated the annex to the museum is likely related to a group of Russeks in Chihuahua who were notaries or bankers involved in some land dealings with Mennonites. For those readers I know academically, you’ll notice the same surname as a great critic of Mexican literature and photography.) I then did some other tourist things without melting in the heat – including eating a snack in a very cute restaurant.

In the evening, I heard a Supreme Court Justice (Margarita Beatriz Luna Ramos) speak about gender and the law, and then I ate tacos. At a place called Taco Taco (this place was recommended by a Mennonite person I met while doing research in Chihuahua, so as you can see, all my interests converge). They were so good – immediately improved my already pretty good mood and had such a nice mix of flavors with all the different salsas. They came with 8 different salsas, some of which reflect the Arab influence on Torreón’s food (the onions look just like shawarma onions) and there was one salsa with sesame seeds mixed with chiles. I wish I had been hungry enough to try more!


Taco Taco

Re-starting my blog

I used to be famous for taco tours and my taco blog, back in a day when the internet was different, weirder, more personal, less SEO-based. I think it is time to go back to my blog. I will probably never be famous for it (it is more likely that I will get famous in my academic field than that I will be a famous tacoguru) but it seems worthwhile.

This summer I am in Mexico for about a month doing research, and then I will be at home writing up the research. In this time, I guarantee you, my loyal readers,  a couple of posts each week about tacos, in Mexico and in the UNited States. Get ready.

Cooking Another Cookbook

I am currently on a research leave and so I have time. A lot more time. So, I have taken up cooking again. Those of you who have followed my blog for quite some time may remember when I cooked through Plenty and Jerusalem. I started to work my way through Plenty More and then I got the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook for Christmas, and decided to work my way through that. It is a vegan cookbook, which is handy since I don’t eat dairy unless I’m taking my Target brand lactaid pills. The cookbook does have hilarious ideas about appropriate protein levels. I am sure they are are more than enough to survive, but I lift weights, so I prefer to eat a bit more protein.

This cookbook is great for several reasons: none of the recipes are difficult to cook, they don’t typically involve a lot of unusual ingredients (which is handy as I am only staying in my apartment for 4 months and don’t want to stock an entire kitchen), work well with substitutions, and are delicious. There are also not a ton of recipes, so I think that this project is a bit more feasible than my Jerusalem project.

The recipes also often call for a food processor or vitamix, but this little guy works fine for most recipes I’ve tried.

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Today there is a snowstorm and nothing is open so I took the opportunity to write at home instead of the library and spend my breaks cooking. I am also happy that I got my groceries delivered yesterday, instead of my original plan, which was to have them delivered tomorrow.

This morning, I made some cookie dough balls (amazing).

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Then I had some lunch. Then I made roasted garlic sundried tomato hummus (with budget bytes version of sundried tomatoes). I have eaten a lot of hummus in my life and this might be a new fave. Now I am going to go eat some hummus and make curry for dinner.

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On Violence, Culture and Literature

A few weeks ago I presented at a conference about human rights, and I discussed conflict about land between LeBarons (a group of polygamous Mormons with an exceptionally violent history) and primarily Indigenous ejidatarios (people who live on collectively owned land granted or restituted by the Mexican government). My conclusion pondered the merits of consuming representations of the obviously violent aspects of this conflict, particularly as it is situated in Mexico.

“This talk about violence, and the overt representation of violence, may do harm than good. It is another way to exoticize Mexico. It overshadows the structural violence that leads to abject violence, which is then represented in visual and print cultures. I wonder if paying attention to the everyday bureaucratic actions and corresponding acts of resistance and the ways that they are represented would be a better approach. It would allow us to return to the reason we study literature, culture and history: the chance to glimpse times, people and places outside of our own experiences and to offer us ways to pay attention and to understand what we prefer to ignore. Returning to why we began such an unproductive career path in the first place allows us to trace the history of the machine that produces so much violence it has now become palatable for us.”

Mexico City

I have been in Mexico City for over a month now and I am not ready to leave. I don’t even know where I am going to. Is Ohio my home? I remain uncertain. This summer has been wonderful. First, I hosted by mom and our dear friend for a week. That was a bit stressful, but, I actually saw a number of my favourite tourist sites again – the basilica, the Frida Kahlo house in Coyoacán the Popular Art Museum, and we did parts of my friend Nacho’s patented Mexico City tour. We also had some problems with water in our airbnb, but I just recently got a refund so I’m now again fully on board with the precarious economy.


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Me and my mom in Coyoacán at the Frida Kahlo house

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Santa Muerte

Then, since the beginning of July I have been in an apartment with my friend from my writing group and fellow Mexicanist. Every morning at home we wake up at 6:30 and go onto whatsapp and write. Anyone can join, but no one wants to. She makes me coffee every day and then we write every morning. We did other things during the day that pertained to both of our current book projects. I often went to the archives and museums. We also did yoga, at a great studio around the corner. It turns out that after a month of near-daily yoga I am pretty good. I can almost hold crow pose for a whole breath!

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Wearing a sweater from my roommate

I ate a lot of comida corrida, and my favourite and best tacos, where I went last year with my friend Santiago, his hilarious nephew and one of Santiago’s thesis committee members.  I went to a few museums, saw the altar to the Santa Muerte (Saint Death) and soaked up the energy of this incredible city.