Culture

LA’s Evil Cooks Has Introduced A Flan Taco And The Internet Definitely Has Some Feelings About It

The taco is such a beloved culinary treasure because of its versatility. The formula is pretty simple and straight-forward: tortilla, meat and toppings. You can eat it at any time of day; morning, noon and late night. And you can stuff anything in there. You have your fish tacos, your breakfast tacos, savory tacos and vegan tacos. Now without further ado, we present you with the dessert taco you didn’t know you needed, the sweet taco.

Yeah, yeah, the idea of a sweet version of the Mexican classic might make you cringe a little, but hear us out—this one’s worth it.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re into carnitas, birria, suadero, or pastor, we promise you, if you love tacos and you love flan, this bad boy is all you need for dessert. 

The flan taco comes to you courtesy of Balam Kitchen a taco haven in Lynwood, and  Evil Cooks, an LA Chicano kitchen pop up duo by Alex Garcia aka Pobre Diablo and Elvia Huerta, La Bruja. Needless to say that the collaboration brought the big guns to Taco Madness—LA’s longest running Taco Festival—with their unconventional creation this year.

Taco lovers waited in long lines to try the best of all nine taquerías featured at the festival.

But all we keep hearing about, months after the debut of this creative invention in May, is the ‘flan taco’ and how obsessed everyone is with it.

Garcia, former chef at Pomona’s Mexican restaurant, Dia De Los Puercos, wanted to create a sweet taco, and what better Mexican dessert to use for his invention than the classic custard and caramel delight that everyone loves: flan. Sticking to the original recipe for the flan, he decided to use ‘tuile’ for the tortilla. Tuile is a baked wafer similar to that used for Chinese fortune cookies. He added corn masa to make it pliable like any good tortilla should be, and voila! The result was a sweet tortilla, similar to a pancake or a crepe. 

The classic milk-based flan was infused with citrus and coconut, and it sits atop the innovative fortune cookie-style tortilla. What about the toppings, you might ask? Nothing short of an explosion of flavor: mint, a twist of orange and, drumroll please, crushed Polvorones. Yes that’s right, the classic orange-flavored cookies abuelos all over Mexico have been dunking in their coffees since time immemorial. 

La Bruja’, the name they gave to their flan taco, embodies Huerta and Garcia’s rich yet opposing personalities.

Both sweet and savory, unexpected and provocative. Garcia was born into a family of bakers in Queretaro, Mexico. He moved to the US when he was 14 and has since held several jobs in the food industry, from dish washer to Chef. Huerta is originally from El Sereno and enrolled in culinary school at a young age. She has been a cook at UCLA for over a decade, where she’s gotten used to cooking with massive quantities. 

Despite their vastly different backgrounds and experiences with food, they agree that what they create at Evil Cooks is “the food of their childhoods”.

“We want people to taste our food and be reminded of home,” says Garcia. The sweet concoction had taco-lovers so impressed that Zach Brooks, general manager of Smorgasburg LA, called it “a plated dessert you’d find at the best Mexican restaurant in the city”, next thing you know, he offered Balam Taco x Evil Cooks, an eight week residency at the Smorg’s Ice Cream Alley. 

Keep up with the nomadic pop-up to try the flan taco and some of their other unique creations. Evil Cooks’ itinerant menu changes fairly often, and always includes innovative takes on Mexican classics, like a chilaquiles breakfast burrito, fideo taco (complete with queso fresco and crema), shell crab tacos and more, tortas, gorditas, and more.

Don’t miss Balam Kitchen’s chicano food in Lynwood. Evil Cooks pops up weekly at various spots in LA. Find them at Sara’s Market, El Café by Primera Taza and Smorgasburg. They also cater private events and gigs.

We Found The Best Latino Eats At Trader Joe’s So You Wouldn’t Have To

Culture

We Found The Best Latino Eats At Trader Joe’s So You Wouldn’t Have To

Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s may not be the first name that comes to mind when you’re thinking of authentic Latin food. But surprisingly enough, this cult-favorite specialty store has a variety of foods from across Latinidad that (while they may not be as good as abuela’s) hit the spot when you’re in a pinch. 

From Frozen quesadillas to packaged plantain chips, Trader Joe’s has a ton of foods from Latin America to satisfy your wallet and your tastebuds. And who knows? Maybe even your abuela will approve. Take a look at 10 of the best Trader Joe’s Latin food options below! 

1. Southwest Chicken Quesadillas

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Reddit user u/gratefulem220, these treats fly woefully under the radar. “Southwest quesadillas are so good. They’re like southwest egg rolls from any chain restaurant but in quesadilla form”

2. Chili Spiced Dried Mango

via Trader Joe’s website

You may have grown out of your Vero Mango days, but Trader Joe’s offers a sweet and healthy alternative to the famous Mexican candy. According to Trader Joe’s, this dried fruit is lovingly coated in a “blend of paprika, cayenne, sugar, & salt”. What’s not to love?

3. Chicken Enchiladas Verde

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Trader Joe’s, their Chicken Enchiladas are filled with “chicken breast, Monterey jack cheese, and a special enchiladas verdes sauce made from crushed tomatillo, onion, green chili peppers, and diced poblanos.”  We know it’s hard to beat homemade, but Trader Joes usually comes through with yummy late night snacks.

4. Mini Chicken Tacos

via Trader Joe’s website

Sure, these aren’t your madre’s tacos, but these Mini Chicken Tacos haven’t become a fan-favorite for nothing. According to Trader Joe’s, these tacos are made with crispy yellow corn tortillas, and then “are filled with chunks of chicken leg and breast meat that’s been simmered in a tangy, green chile tomatillo sauce kicked up with a bit of jalapeño pepper”. Sounds delicious.

5. Cuban-Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

via Trader Joe’s website

Finally, a snack fit for the Cubanos out there. While Trader Joe’s may be famous for it’s iterations of Mexican food (it was founded in Southern California, after all), once in a while, they throw the rest of Latinidad a bone. This time, they tried their hand at a Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl. According to TJ’s, the bowl is made of marinated chicken thighs, yellow rice, diced bell peppers and onions, black beans, plantains, and cilantro. And to make matters even better, it’s topped of with mojo criollo sauce.

6. Black Bean & Cheese Taquitos

via Trader Joe’s website

Taquitos are arguably the perfect snack food. If it’s gameday finger food or mouth-watering appetizers, taquitos always hit the spot. These ones are made with “seasoned black beans & Monterey Jack cheese”. You can’t go wrong with this tasty vegetarian snack option. 

7. Chicken Chilaquiles Rojo

via Trader Joe’s website

Chilaquiles are a breakfast staple in Mexico, and TJ’s has offered up it’s own version on this savory treat. If you really want to take this frozen food to the next level, don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen a bit. “We made this this weekend, topped with sour cream, avocado, a sunny side up egg and a dash of hot sauce,” said Reddit user u/Pepperpeople444.

8. Roasted Plantain Chips

via Trader Joe’s website

In many parts of Latinidad, plantains are as common to Latinos as apples are to North Americans. Those who miss their sweet banana snacks are in for a treat when they visit Trader Joe’s. “They’re just crispy, crunchy, starchy goodness!” says Reddit user u/Hazy_Cat. “There’s just a teeny-tiny hint of sweetness that makes them ultra addictive. The TJ ones are my favorite”.

9. Giant Peruvian Inca Corn

via Trader Joe’s website

If you’re in the mood for something salty and crunchy but know that potato chips won’t hit the spot, opt instead for a bag of Giant Peruvian Inca Corn. “For years of my life, my favorite go to snack was TJ’s giant Peruvian Inca Corn. It’s crunchy salty goodness got me through many nights of school and games. Satisfied me through many hungry afternoons,” says Reddit user u/Doombuggie41. “Corn nuts don’t do the same thing”.

10. Trader Joe’s Peruvian Style Chimichurri Rice

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Reddit user u/crazypterodactyl, there’s a million ways to use this delicious frozen rice: “We make ours into soup (they had it as a sample one time). One bag chimichurri rice, one can black beans, one carton black bean soup. I add garlic and lime juice, but that’s not necessary. Serve plain, or with cheese, sour cream, and/or cilantro. So good and so easy!” 

A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

Culture

A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

@datavizero / Twitter

One of the biggest changes that the so called digital revolution has brought to our lives is the capacity that today’s computer systems have to process huge amounts of data. Processors today are able to run algorithms that bring together millions of data entries to find trends, cluster groups of similar objects and generate visualizations that can help us understand even the most complex aspects of science and culture. This is known popularly as “big data” and has changed the ways in which governments and companies understand reality and make decisions. For example, before high speed processing mathematicians took literally years to make sense of census data and find correlations between factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age and literacy levels.

Guess what? This can be done today with a few clicks as computers bring together millions upon millions of data entries and make sense of it all. It all sounds very geeky, but big data is defining how we live our lives, from how traffic lights coordinate to how much tax you gotta pay each year.

So all this geeky, nerdy stuff should be put to good use, o no?

Enter Mexican geographer Baruch Sangines, a true wizard when it comes to generating great data visualizations.

Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

This young scientist is the Chief Data Scientist at a company called Jetty, and he does some pretty groundbreaking research on pressing social issues such as housing and poverty.

His LinkedIn profile is pretty impressive: “Experience in public and private sector with skills to analyze and visualize data related to: commuting, transit, housing, tourism, migration, security, and urban environment. Expert in territorial analysis and passionate about the cartography and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize small and big data”. Wow. hold your horses, Einstein! He is a proud graduate of Mexico’s National University and has Master’s Degree on Demographics and Statistics. 

So why did he go viral on Mexican social media in the past few days? We mean, science is sexy but not viral sexy (sadly!). All because of this map:

Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

No, it is not a visualization of WiFi points in Mexico. No, it is not a rendition of cartel activity. No, it is not a highlight of the areas in which development runs at a faster pace. It is about something much, much more relevant to everyday life in Mexico lindo y querido. Any guesses?

Nothing is more important than a delicious taco when you most need it! 

Credit: The Splendid Table

Just look at that tortilla, a bit crispy, a bit soft… and that perfectly marinated meat… 

Well, Baruch created a visualization of taco stands in Mexico and nos ponemos de pie ante tal maravilla! 

Baruch called this visualization Taco Universe, and it showcases all the registered taco stands and shops in the country. We can clearly see that there is a high concentration of taco shrines in the capital Mexico City, and that hotspots like Cancun and Cabo are also highlighted, perhaps thanks to gringo tourism craving fish tacos. The scientists used the database Directorio Estadístico Nacional de Unidades Económicas (Denue) (Statistical National Directory of Economic Units) from the federal census agency INEGI. The map highlights how taco culture is primarily based in the center of the country, with local varieties such as Puebla’s tacos arabes (a shawarma like type) increasing the traffic in that area. 

But it is important to note that many taco stands are not accounted for (and that is not this scientist’s fault).

Thousands of Mexicans subsist in an informal economy with businesses that are not registered and pay no taxes. Among these businesses, mobile taco stands reign supreme. There are hundreds of taco stands all around the country that are set up informally. Sometimes you can find the most delicious tacos there! You can also find informal vendors selling tacos de canasta, a variety that is literally carried in a basket. This map does not take these informal enterprises into account, even though they are key to Mexico’s taco culinary tradition. 

So you are curious about tacos de canasta now, aren’t you? 

Well, just look at these crispy, sweaty, fat-rich babes. Tacos de canasta are filled with guisados or stews, or with refried beans. We are almost sure that Baruch did not include them in his map, but we can forgive him for making us crave unos taquitos (we bet you are calling your comadres or compas right now to hit the taco stand) and showing us how Mexico is a country that despite its many challenges still finds time to live up to the old adage: barriga llena, corazon contento.