Perhaps tacos are the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mexican food. But what are tacos? When I was a kid, my mom and my friends' moms made them good.
Starting with the hard, upright shell from the box, you put in some ground beef cooked with the special packet of spice that also comes with the box. Or maybe chicken. Then you put shredded "Mexican" cheese from a bag on them, directly on the meat so it will melt a little, and top them off with some lettuce, onions and tomatoes, and if your friend's mom is extra cool, maybe something special like avocado. Now, aren't those tacos?
Sorry, but not here in Mexico.
First of all, typical Mexican tacos use corn tortillas, maybe two, and they are soft, fresh and small – about the size of the palm of your hand. I have never seen the hard shelled ones from the box. Many kinds of meat can be put into a taco, but the most common and cheapest is called pastor – big filets of pork cooked on a spinning stick all day, covered with spices and with a pineapple on top.
There are usually only two vegetables that top off a taco: cilantro and onion. If you are lucky, slices of the pineapple will end up on it too.
Finally the sauce: every taqueria has at least two sauces, red and green. Taste them carefully because they can be extremely spicy. Better places have more sauces in yellow or orange, or chopped tomato, onion and chile. Finally, like almost all other Mexican food, you squeeze a lime on top of it.
These are real tacos, so if you come to Mexico (not touristy Mexico), don't be disappointed if you can't find your upright hard shelled tacos. You'll be very pleasantly surprised. Writing this has made me super hungry so I'm off to get some right now.