New Yorker since 2005
Jalapa Jar fan since fall of 2015
The intersection of tacos, philosophy & memories
“No man ever eats the same taco twice, for it’s not the same taco and he’s he is not the same man”.
Ok, that was my take on one of the most profound quotes in human history, but if Heraclitus had the pleasure of of devouring a Jalapa Jar breakfast taco he would have forgot all about rivers and the ever changing flow of the human experience and the relentless march of time. He was know as the “Weeping Philosopher”, so it must have been a river of tears that inspired such wisdom. I would prefer a taco philosopher.
I don’t want to spend too long walking on the grave of a man that died in a pile of shit (you can look that one up yourself), but I can’t help myself from imagining a happy story where Heraclitus was a hipster in Brooklyn that found inspiration in Jalapa Jar and lived a long happy life loathing the mainstream...HMM...streams, rivers….tacos...mmm.
My first step into the taco stream was elementary...elementary school that is...we're done with literature for a moment.
The first taco I remember was a hard shell taco with ground beef, a seasoning that came in a packet with with the shells, with a little lettuce and some tomatoes - from my grandparents garden no less - then topped with grated cheddar cheese (from an actual cheese block).
I could’t eat enough of those tacos and I believe it’s the childhood taco that inspires taco nostalgia resulting in such expressions as taco night, #tacoTuesday, and let’s taco about it.
now, unfortunately, I can’t replicate that taco. believe me, i've tried. I’ve purchased the taco kits from all sorts of grocers and I can’t recreate that happy taco that mom made and My taco taste buds have been jaded over the years….I just can’t go back.
Now as i move on in my memories of tacos gone past, the next that comes to mind is my high school 1st love, Mexico Chiquito (which I believe is still around if you are ever in Little Rock, AR). M.C. had hard and soft tacos along with some amazing cheese dip…..yes, that's right, "cheese dip," we didn’t call it "queso! "
you could swim on that queso, but alas high school only lasts 4 years and i moved on to Fort Worth, TX & TCU. it was there that my taco river broke the damn dam. The whole thing was a blur. I’m talking Eyes Wide Shut of tacos type situation. I don’t even know. Breakfast tacos, game day tacos, dinner tacos, late night tacos….we were all there happy, wide awake exhausted wanting more.
But I can’t got back there….not in the way I wish. I’ve tried.
I go back for football games more than I go back to see my family in Little Rock (this is sad but true). Some of the old taco shops have made it big, and really expand nicely (ahem, i see you fuzzy's), but it’s not the same taco….its….kinda...you know...well...its just not.
now, Ironically as a song called Ironic (yet provides no examples of irony), I have rediscovered my passion for small batch tacos in the most unlikely of places...the biggest of towns…the big town. Nuevo York.
The breakfast tacos, when I slip into a Texas state of mind, are just not the tacos on my minds tongue. Jalapa has replaced them….somewhat shockingly.
What most excites me about Jalapa Jar? I think that Steve, Tommy, Joel, and Ryan have invited me back on the taco river barge, i'm no longer just wondering around searching for tacos past.
The way they are constantly improving the process, using local/seasonal ingredients, expanding the menu, providing salsa that has no match, and catering for businesses (people are legitimately getting tricked into thinking they enjoy work for a few hours! i've seen it!),
Now i'll never be able to go back and find the same taco 'me' from my youth, but if he could meet me now, having found Jalapa jar in the most unlikely of places, well...then we'd really have something to taco bout.
Afterall..."If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it…"
New Yorker since 2005
Jalapa Jar fan since fall of 2015
The Theory of Teleportation and Breakfast Tacos
Like most people, I bemoan the fact that despite bold technological advancements such as Pokemon Go, we have yet to develop and implement teleportation. While scientists have been able to teleport a single atom across a room, we are nowhere near teleporting a single Adam. Aside from feeding into my general laziness, I think I would find teleportation most useful in….well feeding my face.
If Doc Brown could just maintain his focus, my neighborhood Italian place would suddenly be in Rome. If I wanted to pick up fresh fish, I could just pop in to the Tsukiji fish market. I’ve heard the Dungeness crab is best when plucked from Pikes Market in Seattle. I haven’t had seafood muffuletta from New Orleans in years and I could go to Shake Shack and In and Out in the same afternoon (side note: I hope the teleportation device can adjust to my expanding size).
New York is as fantastic a food epicenter as you will find anywhere on the planet, you can march throughout the city and find authentic tastes from so many different countries. But as a southern transplant living in NYC since 2005, teleportation has seemed the only answer to my cravings for the tougher-to-find regional delights I grew up with, such as BBQ and Mexican/Tex-Mex.
Now before you pounce on me or my friends at Jalapa Jar with examples to the contrary, I’m aware great strides have been made, but it’s only been in just the last 10 years. Now with Daniel Delaney’s BrisketTown and Union Square’s Javelina, the list of BBQ and Tex-Mex restaurants that can please a southern palate has grown to a healthy number, but you will be hard pressed to find a top recommendation that had any presence in the city prior to the early 2000s. Furthermore, quality fast-casual Tex-Mex food has yet to find solid footing in NYC the way BBQ has with Mighty Quinn.
The full sit-down dinning experience has improved exponentially for Mexican food, however there are still zombies wandering into Chipotle for lunch or to fill a dinner void on a weekday. Some California style taco shops have popped up….and they’re ok, but that’s not where I would teleport.
I’d head south, for a Texas style taco shop so good that I could go to twice a day. The kind where I can pick up 50 breakfast tacos to take over to the tailgate before the 11AM kick-off (1PM on Sundays) and come back for chips & queso for dinner.
Until Jalapa Jar came along, teleportation was my only hope.
When Jalapa Jar hit the Smorgasburg scene last winter, with their killer fresh-made salsa helping to put their spin on some great breakfast tacos, it was a silent epiphany in Brooklyn. People in the know, would say to me, ‘why did this take so long?’ and people who didn’t know…..it was like watching someone see Breaking Bad for the first time.
I literally witnessed someone stop dead in their tracks in front of the Jalapa booth and say, “Breakfast tacos?……Interesting”. YA! It’s interesting it took so long to get here, right?
Now I have one less need for teleporting. Instead, I can just hop on the 2/3, catch a Nidoqueen, and ride my way down to Clark St to grab some breakfast tacos and feel like I’m back in Fort Worth, an hour from kick-off & ready to root on my Frogs.