Holy Shit, I Love You: Breakfast Tacos
I discovered breakfast tacos in Austin, Texas.
I can't remember the name of the place but it was a no-frills joint with wood-paneling. Locals sat around, reading The Chronicle and sipping coffee. Tacos cost a couple of bucks a piece, fit perfectly in your palm and came out quickly.
I settled on two staples - potato and egg and migas (eggs scrambled with tortilla chips, fresh tomatoes, onions and jalapenos), both on flour tortillas.
I liken that moment to someone eating sushi for the first time at Sukiyabashi Jiro or having your first pint of Guinness at a cozy pub in Dublin.
In Austin lies the genesis of the breakfast taco and these were a revelation.
Who knew that eggs, potatoes, salsa and tortillas could be this good? Well, other than millions upon millions of Texans.
As a result, I haven't stopped complaining about West Palm's breakfast taco game for about four years now.
We have three places that serve legit breakfast tacos - all of which are just fine in comparison to the nameless taco joint as well as Austin mainstays Torchy's and Tacodeli.
I know. I know.
It's literally eggs, potatoes, cheese and salsa.
Maybe some avocado.
Always some avocado.
They might just be the easiest meal in the world to make. Even if I make the tortillas from scratch, Robert Rodriguez style.
Hell, if I make a huge batch and freeze it - I can eat breakfast tacos literally every day for the rest of my life.
This is a reasonable solution to my complaint but here's the thing - it's not the same.
Yes, it's about the food because let's face it - my hot sauce is never as good as the kind served in squeezy bottles all across Texas and my tortillas will never be as good as a filmmaker's, the sweet little abuela at HEB or the swarthy dudes slangin' masa in the steamy kitchen.
But it's also about that moment in my life.
I had been home for a year and was just finding and rediscovering myself. I was in a city I always wanted to visit with new friends and a man I was falling in love with. I was surrounded by music, food and dogs and for the first time in years, I felt a boundless sense of hope. I felt like I could breathe again.
Proust had his madeleine:
"No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me...And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea."
I have breakfast tacos - a bite of warm tortilla, the flood of pillowy eggs, the prickly heat of salsa - and I am back in Austin with the sun beating down on my shoulders, ranchera music chasing Willie on the radio while I share a meal with the people I love.
Indicative of the life I want to live - warm, simple, satisfying and full of flavor with more than enough to share.