Thursday, November 6, 2008

Taco Truck Oaxaco

Parking lots are a serious blight upon the land. Filled with cars or empty, they are a waste of space and an insult to the land they sit upon. Sometimes I think that there is no better symbol of America than her vast parking lots.

In south Berkeley there sits a parking lot at Ashby and Alcatraz where every weekend, there is a flea market. On these days I put aside my hard feeling and rummage around for junk.

I rarely buy anything at the flea market, but it's quite a nice cultural experience. You can buy handicrafts, old records, or the stuff people have stolen from you. There is another very important reason why I always go back. Every Saturday and Sunday, a very good taco truck sets up shop.

Taco Truck Oaxaco has a pretty typical spread of Menu items, none of which remind me of the flavors of Oaxaca. Oh well, they are a competent and cheap truck. The burritos at this truck are certainly nice, and the tacos look ok as well, but it's the gorditas I return for.

I first ate a gordita in the state of Chihuahua way back in 2002. My memory is hazy, but around this time Taco Bell was selling something they called a gordita with a bizarre advertising campaign that used Communist and Cuban imagery and that goddamn dog wearing a barret much like Che Guevara wears on all those t-shirts. Needless to say, I never ate one of their gorditas.

So what's a gordita? Well, think of a pita but made of masa, and fried. You fill it with meat, cheese, beans, cabbage, and salsa. I'm leaving something out or saying one too many things I'm sure, but there are no hard and fast rules.

So here's my fresh, hot gordita. In the words of a rolling Stone author upon hearing Bob Dylan's 1970 album Self Portrait: "What is this shit?" Why is it that so often Mexican food in America uses lettuce instead of the more typical and superior cabbage? Why oh why would any rational person do such a thing? Lettuce cannot stand up to heat and it always gets limp. The texture adds little or nothing. Also, in terms of food value there is nothing. Nada. Zip. It's not that you'd never get lettuce in Mexico, but it's just not common. I want cabbage. Keep in mind that I tend to overreact about these kinds of things. It has simply boiled over at this very moment into a stream of consciousness rant. No hard feelings.

Anyhow, this gordita has lettuce in it and I can deal with that. But what else is there? Well you've got some sour cream, which once again is not exactly right, but it is good. There's some very lovely cabeza inside, better than I would have expected frankly, and a very good and spicy red salsa. Wrapped up in fresh hot masa, you've got yourself a snack or a small meal. I can certainly think of worse ways to spend two-fifty at a flea market, but I'm hard pressed to think of a better way.

Taco Truck Oaxaco at the Berkeley Flea Market
1937 Ashby Ave
(between Martin Luther King Jr Way & Otis St)
Berkeley, CA 94703
Every Saturday and Sunday 7am-7pm


Robyn said...

Crap. We got so engrossed by tortas in NM that we bypassed all the gorditas. And now I have to wait another year to try one. :-(

a said...

On the one hand I say "You fool!" Gorditas are certainly the bees knees. But on the other, if you find something that's good, why change? I've yet to find good tortas in Oakland, and most times afterwards I curse myself for not just ordering tacos.

brotherfromanothermother said...

If you think the gorditas are Badass, wait til you try their SOPES!!!!!! or if You really want to kill that devil inside of you that you call hunger, try their Mar y Tierra dish! I LOVE THIS TRUCK! I always ask the ladies inside to marry me when I go!.... they smile and deny me hahaha but the day they say yes, ill be in mexican food heavan!