Monday, February 22, 2010

Bourgeois taco salad.

“What to Eat This Week” is a regular game at our house. Typically we pick a few recipes, maybe three, and go shopping for the ingredients on the weekend. This saves money as well as time, as having a shopping list greatly simplifies the process. Since I could live on apples, hummus, and rice, I try to take Red’s desires into account before we go shopping. Occasionally, I’ll ask him to pick whatever recipes he wants and we’ll do those. I don’t think this is a huge imposition.

He, on the other hand, has been known to react as though I’d just asked him to prep his own arm for amputation. Maybe it’s the sheer number of cookbooks we have. Maybe it’s the difficulty of anticipating what might be appetizing later in the week.

Last week, one of his chosen recipes was taco salad. Ironically, we do not have a recipe for taco salad, and I’d never made it before. I realize that I’m in the extreme minority here, and he would offer that as proof of my bourgeois upbringing. Yes, it’s true: La Familia Burnout did not sit down to dinners of taco salad. We had tacos on a rare, forgettable occasion, and my mom makes a mean salad, but never did the twain meet in that cross-cultural dance of lettuce and salsa.

So, Red suggested that I buy some lettuce. I rolled my eyes, because I barely acknowledge lettuce as food. Really, what is it good for? Anything lettuce does, spinach and chard and kale do better. Lettuce says, “Oh, you’re vay-gan? Well, we’ll just get you a salad, then.” You know what that salad looks like.

I bought romaine lettuce, because it is classier than iceberg and I had a heretofore-unknown bourgeois reputation to uphold.

Red also told me that we’d need burger crumbles. I bought those too, with considerably less angst than I had the lettuce.

[Note: At this point, I’m sure you’re all wondering, “Where the fuck was he while you were buying groceries?!” Simmer down, gentle readers. He had homework to do. Rest assured that we slay the grocery store beast together 90% of the time. Although, since we go to the hippie grocery, it’s more like we lull it with Nag Champa and sing it Pete Seeger tunes.]

In case you don’t know (I didn’t), taco salad is stupid-simple. Red chopped some onions, sautéed them until he liked the way they looked, then threw in the burger crumbles and a taco spice packet. It was Old El Paso or Taco Bell, or a little of each. They’re full of MSG and pre-date my residence in our home, but they get the job done. While that cooked, he crushed some tortilla chips in the bottom of a larger-than-we-usually-use bowl, then layered shredded lettuce on top. Here I was confused, because I had thought that taco salad would be more akin to nachos, with all the fixings heaped on whole tortilla chips, which we would then use in lieu of silverware.

“No,” he said.

We then scooped the burger mixture on top of the lettuce. We had neither vegan cheese nor sour cream (why? because they weren’t on the list), so we finished the pile off with salsa and a dash of taco sauce. It looked very artful:

And, holy shit, it was good. Talk about a conversion experience. I could have eaten that taco salad until I exploded. Cool lettuce, crunchy chips, and spicy-warm burger mush. It was a sensation-fest, even though my nacho fantasy was cruelly dashed and I had to eat it with a fork.

Red was suitably vindicated. My de-bourgeois-ification continues.

Bonus pic: spider friend. He’s been hanging out on my doorframe all day. I told him to be careful, as he is very very small.


  1. hee! the best part is I can see pretty much exactly the look Red gave you. And hear him say "No." It made me giggle. :)

  2. I have to laugh, I have the same weekly shopping/recipe planning ritual as you, and weekly I ask my boyfriend what he likes and get the same deer in headlights look. At least your husband looks at your books! :)

  3. IN MY DEFENSE - for nearly 18 years no one asked me what i wanted for dinner unless it was a choice of leftovers. Then at college the myriad choices made options endless, though I probably still ate the same 6 items. After graduation it was back home where mom cooked and the only real choice was what to have off the menu from the takeout joint. Then when I moved out, my roommate and I rarely cooked (it was usually something simple like spaghetti). So there again, it was what takeout joint to visit and what to get. Additionally, it is still difficult for me to plan meals in the veg arena. I ate the S.A.D. for a quarter century. old habits die hard.

  4. *strokes husband's ruffled fur* We all ate the S.A.D., lover. Remember, my default setting is ramen noodles, popcorn, and orange juice. :)

  5. ok, you are HILARIOUS!! I am honestly shocked that this was your first experience with taco salad. We had "tacos on a plate" growing up, which was more like what you initially thought. Chips down, all toppings, use chips at utensils.

  6. Growing up we had tacos all the time, but never taco salads. In fact I've probably only had one or two taco salads in my entire life! That must change because the way you described this has got my mouth watering. YUMMMM!