Victor on Tacos

This post was written by Victor Hazan and originally published on Facebook.
What would Marcella think? An airport flirtation, casual and seemingly short lived, is leading to mounting passion. There is nothing enjoyable about airplane travel, but there is one pleasure that both Marcella and I looked forward to when we found ourselves in an American airport. A hot dog, thickly smeared with ballpark mustard. My flight, after a recent trip to Rome, landed in Atlanta. While waiting for the connecting flight to Sarasota, I set out to find a hot dog stand. I saw none. I asked. “Sorry, we don’t have one in this terminal”. I had not touched the food served on the plane. The prospect of reaching home late on an empty stomach aroused that stomach’s cries. Over a counter, where food was steadily being dispensed, there was a sign, Willie’s Tacos. Tacos? What’s a taco? It looked edible. Out of a choice of fillings I chose steak. It was cut into small pieces and mixed with onions, a green that turned out to be cilantro, which would have stopped Marcella right there, and a soft, white cheese. I gobbled it all, to the last minuscule bit of tortilla dough and meat. Some months later I was in New York to meet with Kara Watson, my wonderful editor at Scribner’s. She will be publishing Ingredienti, Marcella’s guide to the market. Marcella had left several long, handwritten notebooks, whose contents I had prepared for publication. My old friend Bill Shinker, recently retired from Penguin’s, proposed that in the evening we could do jazz in the village followed by late night tacos. And it was at the Empellòn Taqueria on West 4th Street, that taco with mushrooms, taco with lobster, taco with goat at last brought passion to its full consummation. I see a future for Italian tacos filled with Bolognese, with sausage and rapini, with Swiss chard and chick peas. It will not compete with lasagne alla Bolognese or with risi e bisi, but it is nonetheless a universal food that can bring equal satisfaction to a billionaire hedge fund manager and to a construction worker. Illustrated below is Empellòn’s divine mushroom taco, opened up for the smartphone’s lens. Victor
October 20, 2015
Photo by Victor Hazan

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