Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
While unfamiliar to many, the potato taco is finding more fans by being so versatile. As with tacos, there are many types, recipes and flavorings.
Taco trucks and taco catering chefs didn’t celebrate the potato taco. The first-ever food critic to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize was Jonathan Gold, restaurant reviewer for the LA Weekly. And the body of his work examined by the prize committee was articles written in 2006, which included his praise of a potato taco (taco de papa) served by an unassuming taqueria in Los Angeles’ Glassell Park.
“Thin corn tortillas folded around bland spoonfuls of mashed spuds and fried to an indelicate, shattering crunch,” he wrote, adding how those potatoes functioned as “a smooth, unctuous substance that oozes out of the tacos with the deliberate grace of molten lava.”
That is truly prize-winning copy for what is reportedly an increasingly crowd-pleasing menu item, especially with the rise of the non-meat-eating culture that has become chic today. Vegetarian and vegan foodies love potato tacos!
But not all potato tacos are created the same.
Gold’s love of the mashed potato taco shouldn’t overshadow some of the other creations by potato taco connoisseurs. Taco catering firms are famous for adapting a recipe to the interests and preferences of event planners, including the following:
- Fried-to-crunchiness wedges, flavored with cilantro, oregano, cloves and cumin.
- Diced potatoes, boiled and mixed with sour cream, salt and pepper, cumin, garlic, and oregano (cotija cheese recommended as a topping).
- Sweet potatoes spiced to delirious excitement, with black beans, avocado and corn (if you need “delirious excitement” defined, ask your taco cart caterers for what’s new this year).
These are a mere set of thought starters, as the potato is as versatile as tacos. Both are exceptionally adaptive to spices, adjacent texture (i.e., crunchy vegetables), salsas and other toppings.
To illustrate, consider the forms that potatoes can be cooked before insertion in the corn or flour tortilla: boiled, baked, steamed, roasted, microwaved or fried (it’s conceivable a late night chef with the munchies somewhere has tried potato chips inside a wrap, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea). Add how there is a broad variety of potato types in brown, yellow, white, blue, purple, orange (sweet) and pink, each with a slight variation in taste. Some potatoes are starchy, others waxy. Some diners prefer the fiber and nutrients found in the skin be left on the finished dish while others like them skinned clean.
Mobile taco caterers get requests for potato tacos, however they are not carried by all vendors as they are less known in the taco crowd. More typically the taco diner, after a few trips to the margarita bar, thinks more in terms of the meats, poultry and fish that constitute a taco filling.
It takes more than the words of a Pulitzer Prize winning food critic to make a potato taco taste great. Chefs who know how to be creative with the spuds are the real champions.