Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
America’s coming of age celebrations are a showcase of cultural diversity. Surprisingly, the taco has emerged as the food of choice across the board.
We think of graduations, confirmations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Quinceañeras, Sweet Sixteen and debutante parties as the familiar rites of passage, when children graduate to adulthood. Almost always there’s a party to cap off an accomplishment that goes with reaching a certain age.
But greater diversity awareness and a little bit of reality TV has taught us that some cultures mark maturity with Rumspringa (Amish adventure-seeking), wilderness “outcamps” (“Canadian Inuit boys and girls) and weddings (reality TVs “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding”). Only perhaps viewers of documentaries know that the Japanese have their Seijin-no-Hi (for 20-year-old women), betrothed Ethiopian men jump over castrated male cows, and at least one tribe in the Brazilian Amazon embeds gloves with stinging ants that 13-year-old boys wear to prove their ability to endure pain.
American celebrations of rites of passage are more about pleasure than pain. It’s about a great setting, great clothes, perhaps a band and always about smart food. The menu needs to be “smart” because the occasion and age group begs hipness without being a drag on the evening. Few Bat Mitzvahs, Quinceañeras or school graduations involve Cornish hens or New York Strip steaks. Not surprisingly, taco caterers are in high demand with teenagers.
This probably explains the growing trend toward taco cart catering, seen in backyards, hotel ballrooms and church halls alike. Why so much broad appeal and apparent adaptability? There are at least three reasons:
Tacos are familiar and increasingly sophisticated – Coming of age means learning to eat like a grown up. Taco caterers have expanded the menu far beyond the fast food version of these treats to include shrimp, Jamaican chicken, tilapia, grilled vegetables, gourmet greens, and fusion salsas. Celebrants can pick and choose ingredients so no two tacos are identical.
This is walk-around eating, ideal for the social media generation – Because this is a food station set-up, partiers have the option to eat a little bit with this group and a little bit with that group, visiting different mobile taco carts along the way. Just like how they chat on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine and on other platforms.
Taco carts go where you want your party to be – These are self-contained kitchens, which can turn a small lakeside cottage into a party venue for 200. If the cart can roll in, you have yourself an event venue.
If your event needs to be kosher, be sure to inquire of your caterer if they can accomplish that (some do). In any case, investigate the taco option with the honoree. Chances are that he or she would choose this over Cornish hens, stinging ant gloves and cow jumping.