Taco gangs

It is not yet noon, but the queue has already started in front of one of the Parisian counters of O’Tacos, the French sandwich giant with more than 300 locations. Among the customers, groups of young people, and a few who have lost their forties. And there is something. Here, the tortilla can be folded into almost anything: cordon-bleu, merguez sausage and even raclette cheese. This culinary collision causes serious damage to the palate, although the taste of the taco is constantly immersed in a wonderful “cheese sauce”, including a good dose of cheddar. O’Tacos, who do not make gourmet lace, even offer a “gigataco”, the size of a baby, including more than 2.5 kg of meat.

Famous chefs, self-taught chefs who love Mexico, small restaurant owners: all are fighting to return to the taco roots.

This caloric bomb corresponds to the image that we have, in France, of the taco: a pie of wheat flour, thick as a mattress, to make itself and which annoys the purists. I can’t eat this stuff! », argues Enrique Casarrubias. A chef has joined the gang trying to restore respectability to the iconic street food of Mexico. Because, for several years, opposition has been organized. Famous chefs, self-taught chefs who entered the kitchen for the love of Mexico, small owners: all are fighting, with methods that are often derogatory compared to chains, to return to the roots of the taco. And delicious concoctions sell for 3 or 4 euros each.

At El Cartel del taco restaurant, where they serve, among other things, suadero tacos (left) with beef chuck, onion, coriander and lime, in Paris, on October 29.

Enrique Casarrubias’ training is exceptional. Born in the south of Mexico, he developed his culinary techniques in France with Jean-François Piège and Akrame Benallal, before managing a restaurant in Paris, near the Champs-Elysées, where subtle decorative elements (cactus, terracotta chairs) produce its origin. Mexico is also smart about the food of this star restaurant: beef tataki, gnocchi, black pudding… Only the careful use of pepper remembers its roots.

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But this talented and well-mannered chef has never forgotten the time he went, as a child, to the market to sell tacos. “My mother was a widow, and to help my family, I woke up at 5 am to prepare them. » As they recall, “French tacos” are their distant (and smaller) cousins ​​in Mexico: “It’s like ham and butter where we put 3 kg of ham, fresh cream and fries”, they are crying. The original taco, which he also began to prepare for enthusiasts during the lockdown, is very different.

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