Tacos & Squares — Defining Taco Edge Cases

• 4 min read

Welcome to the first electronic mail post from Taco.Report! All the reports in December are free so we can entice more people to join Team Taco before we lock 'em down come 2021. Please tell your loved ones, friends, and any strangers you've ever interacted with to give me $2.


Team Taco & Me, Sitting in a Tree

I love you all. I can't believe you're as excited about this absurd idea as I am. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Daniel. I've been working on the internet — mostly doing design & content strategy — for the last two decades, give or take. As of a couple weeks ago, my partner and I live in Mexico. Before that, we lived in Amsterdam, NL. Before that, we bounced around all over the United States. Chances are I have a crush on you.

This ridiculous project is a two-way street. By the end of next year, after we've conquered 2021 tacos together, we'll be best buds. If you ever have any comments or complaints, just hit reply on any of these reports and I'll respond right away. (Or just use hi@taco.report.) This is a conversation. About tacos.

Do you have any questions about the project right now? I'd love to update the Infrequently Asked Questions page with them. The question I've received the most, both in person and online, is how do I define a taco.

Let's Taco 'Bout It

Before you eat 2021 tacos in a year, you need to define what a taco is. Mexican food is exceptional and eclectic and all over the place. We've been here a couple of weeks and I've already run into a couple of edge cases for what a taco is and isn't. Since I'm tracking these internally and you're paying for quality, I want to make sure we establish exactly what I mean when I say I'm eating 2021 tacos.

All Squares Are Rectangles, but Not All Rectangles Are Squares

When I was in middle school, my mind got blown apart by the geometric principle that all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. It lodged itself firmly in my head and has never left. I use it routinely as a metaphor when explaining other topics. Such as, "What's a taco?"

When I think of a taco, it's just a corn tortilla, filling, and salsa. Folded. Eat with your hands. Hell yeah.

But not everything that's a corn tortilla, filling, and salsa that's folded and that you eat with your hands is a taco. Make sense?

America has bastardized so many parts of Mexican food with Tex-Mex, Taco Bell, and portion sizes. Also the racism. (Let's save that for another report.) This is not an exhaustive list or exploration of how America has tarnished Mexican food, but rather just a glimpse into how I'm approaching this project.

Make Yourself a Dang Quesadilla!

Filing away writing about growing up in Idaho when Napoleon Dynamite came out.

What do you think about what I say quesadilla? Two flour tortillas stacked with  cheddar cheese, maybe a protein of some kind, and salsa for dipping. Griddled in a non-stick pan. A grilled cheese by another name. I love a quesadilla. You know what that isn't? An authentic quesadilla. Or least not like any I've seen in Mexico.

The first quesadilla I ordered in Mexico showed up and I was disappointed. Just a single corn tortilla, cheese, filling, laid on the flat top. Ugh. And then I took a bite and y'all. American quesadillas rule but they're trash comparatively.

I'm taking that detour to say that, yeah, I'm counting these quesadillas.

Speaking of making myself something — homemade tacos count too.

Fancy Something or Other

When we were visiting Tulum in 2019, we ate at a restaurant that served a taco on a hoja santa leaf. Is it a taco? We can fight about this one, but I'm counting it.

Panuchos, Sopes, and Salbutes Oh My!

The first time I had a panucho, I nearly cried. It's pure happiness. A corn tortilla, stuffed with refried black beans, topped with lettuce or cabbage, avocado, onion, salsa. Just a real game changer of a food. Rene Redzepi, the head chef and founder of noma, called it the perfect food. (Yes, I sent an interview request through noma's press email to try and get an interview specifically and only about the panucho. More on this as it develops — they're definitely going to say no.)

A close up of a panucho from a lunch last week.

Even though when eating them I've found the best way to enjoy them is to fold them like a taco, they're decidedly not tacos. They're their own thing. To call it a taco would be wrong. Not being tracked or counted. Same goes for sopes, tostadas, and salbutes.

Tortas & Burritos

No. And to be honest, I'm a little offended that someone even asked me if a burrito counts. It's a burrito, ya jerk.


Taco Count

Tacos Eaten This Week — 38
December Taco Total — 61

(Just like everything else in 2020, tacos eaten in December don't count towards 2021's total.)

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