Team Taco™! Welcome to the monthly free report. We had our first movie night over the weekend and it was, without overselling it, incredible. Ferris Bueller's Day Off holds up! Who knew? If you're a paid Team Taco™ member, just reply to this email for an invite to the Discord. (Spam filters were flagging the reports with the direct invite link.)
If you're not paying for Team Taco™ yet, well, I just don't know what to tell you. I can't believe me repeatedly saying, "Give me two bucks." hasn't worked. But let's try it one more time. Give me two bucks?
I named a workout this week. It's basically 1,000 pushups? I don't understand the specifics, but I didn't need them to nail the name — Special Delivery. Because it's pushUPS. Get it? If you need other content help, have I got the person for you.
Oh, and a new salsa recipe. What a week we're having.
A Short Story About A Sign
In our neighborhood, there's a gentrified grocery store down the road. It's connected to a small, gentrified strip mall full of stores for white folks like myself. You'll find things like a co-working space, a few places for brunch where you can pay New York prices for your mediocre açai bowl, or somewhere to purchase a $3,000 garden feature or $7,000 couch. The first time I patronized this strip mall, I was in search of cold brew. I found rage instead.
We'd only been to Tulum once before we moved here. In November of 2019, my partner and I spent two weeks here – the first week with my best friend and his new girlfriend, the second by ourselves. It was our first vacation in over two years. I spent the entire 18 hours of flying and layovers from Amsterdam to Tulum working. We flew in on a Wednesday, leaving early Amsterdam time and landing at night Mexico time. We woke up Thursday and drove the two hours to Tulum. Had a burrito. Found out my best friend's daughter had cancer. (I wrote an essay on cancer already.)
The next day, Friday, I was going to launch the largest project of my career.
Our first morning in Tulum, we woke up severely jet-lagged and depressed. Or run ragged from the stress and anxiety of the unknown. I googled "coffee" and we set off for the closest coffee shop to our Airbnb.
We pulled up a bench at the gentrified coffee shop and I got to work. Wrapping up systems and content and double checking everything.
We were all in shock and depressed and happy and stressed. Had a pastry or two.
I finished my work. I clicked send on the launch email at that coffee shop in that strip mall. Started walking home. My rage was ready to pounce, hiding in the bushes.
My rage looked like a street sign. I snapped.
There it is. The embodiment of my rage. As we were walking back, I don't remember how much of it I yelled versus just screamed in my head (editor's note: it was a lot of both). I hate this sign more than is healthy. Sure, it's fine saying for a CrossFit gym. CrossFit isn't real life. And neither is vacation. This stupid sign just hits the right chord in my brain that snaps me into a version of reality that I despise.
Is this really a thing that people care about? That people want? That people believe?
There are multiples of them all over town with different messages in the same vein.
"If Not Now When?"
"Follow That Dream"
Goddamnit, these signs hold the entirety of my contempt. I adore self-awareness, and these signs invite self-delusion. Sayings like this are just tools for people to talk themselves into being selfish.
How many limits did I have as a poor, queer kid in Idaho? Or my goddaughter, a perfect angel with childhood cancer? A trans kid in Arkansas right the fuck now? Being Black in America right the fuck now?
Let's not pretend that capitalism and white supremacy aren't limiting us — literally killing us — every day of our lives.
Every time I'm coming home from the grocery store just up the road, I get mad. For a minute or two, it's not a quiet street in the jungle, it's Fury Road.
I generally love living in small, tourist towns. There's familiarity in trying to navigate a place built for people on a 3-7 day vacation.
How do you make friends? How do you find the best lunch spot that's not on Google Maps or Eater? Where do you find what makes a place truly special? There's something wonderful about knowing the three places to get a good meal in town. Where you could take someone a quiet date and be alone. The secret swimming hole that everyone has taken an oath to keep off the internet. Where the magic really happens.
This is a pattern I've enjoyed time and time again in my life. Live in a city, eventually feel overwhelmed, pick a small town I adore, and move there for a few years. First McCall, Idaho, the resort town I grew up spending my summers in. Rockaway Beach, Oregon. Whitefish, Montana. Now Tulum, Mexico.
But I can't lie and say this pattern doesn't have things that bother me. The problem this time around? Dodging the Instagram bullshit is getting harder and harder. Or maybe I'm just getting irritated with it faster. Maybe I just don't have the patience for it anymore. Building an authentic life requires you to notice the bullshit faster so you can get rid of it.
As we've settled into living here, I don't patronize any shop in the little strip mall anymore. We've been learning the better spots to go. But once or twice a week, I end up at that grocery store. Because I don't have the energy or time to bike across town, or I need a specialty item.
So imagine, if you will, my complete joy yesterday when I biked by that stupid sign and saw the magic someone had added overnight.
Tomatillo Avocado Salsa
This month's salsa is my partner's favorite. I made it for the first time five or six years ago? (Editor here again: it was mid-2017). For whatever reason, I was always terrified to use tomatillos raw. Every green salsa I'd had until that point had clearly been roasted tomatillos. I just assumed that meant they always had to be roasted. I was so wrong.
One morning, the assumption ran up against my laziness. I didn't want to wait. Roasting the veggies, making the salsa, and then letting it cool down enough to use? No thank you, we've got breakfast tacos to make, and I'm not waiting for salsa.
So I just threw the raw tomatillos in the blender, and oh my god, y'all, we're never looking back. Don't be wrong like me. Raw tomatillos, always and forever.
- 6-8 medium-sized tomatillos
- A quarter of a softball-sized white onion
- 1 small avocado, or 1/2 of a big boi avo
- A jalapeño (or three)
- A small clove of garlic
- Half a bunch of cilantro
- Juice of one lime
- Salt to taste
Take everything. Put it in a blender. Puree. Pour salsa into a bowl. Consume with chips, put on breakfast tacos, use it as dressing for a salad, build a religion around it. Yes, it's really that good. It's one of those things that the first time you try it, you'll involuntarily swear. Dip, crunch, "...oh fuck."
I vary the jalapeños depending on my desired spice level. Y'all get how this goes by now, right? Use whatever chilis you have. If you want to get real wild, you can throw in a couple of the chilis de arbol from the first salsa to get little red flecks in the salsa. Adds a nice heat. A little red in the salsa? That's just good optics.
Just because stuff made for Instagram is dumb doesn't mean that you shouldn't make your food presentable, you know?
I think that's one of the things I really struggle with. When something is important to me, I want it to be important to everyone. My favorite example of this is cooking. When cooking, I always take that extra step, that extra ten minutes, to elevate the food to the next level. Sometimes it's an extra sauce, or toasting something, or using finishing salt. I always plate our meals. You eat with your eyes first.
Does that mean you should plate your food? No, probably not. Do you need to put a red chili in your green salsa? Yes. You should. Will it greatly change the deliciousness of this here salsa? No. And that should be okay! It's okay.
Maybe that's enough.
Because this thing I care about, the little extra bits for cooking, isn't harming anyone. It's just a little care that I have. A little place I feel comfortable placing more energy – just a bit more of my day.
I think the problem comes when it harms other people. Sure, it's just a dumb Instagram roadsign. But it's also a great way to erase people and the systemtic issues they face.
Goddamnit, I just really hate that sign.
TACO TOTAL — 591/2021
This Week's Taco Total — 47
March Taco Total — 197
By the time March passes us by this week, I'll pass 600 tacos. The round numbers are so pleasing.