Jamie stared at the wave in front of him, a clean groundswell rising up from the gaping coastline. Steadying himself, he began to paddle, catching the wave right as it broke and propelled him into the tube. The water rushed in around him, tickling his scalp as he swept through the twisting tunnel and landed in foamy whitewash by the wooden pilings of Huntington pier.
“Nice one,” commented a boy around his age, as he made his way back to the line-up and took a spot at the end.
“Thanks,” replied Jamie, turning his attention back to the waves. But the ocean had gone on break, the water chilling to glass around them. The older surfers slapped the flat surface angrily.
“Guess it’s time to call it quits,” said the other boy, glancing at the sun setting over Catalina Island. “Manuel, by the way.”
“Jamie. You come here a lot? Don’t think I’ve seen you too often.”
“When the waves are up,” replied the dark-haired boy. “I usually stick to Redondo, or El Porto in the winter – sometimes Malibu, though I don’t like to go there.”
“Only been once,” said Jamie. “My dad took me. No one looked very happy to see us.”
“They say anything?”
“No. Don’t think they wanted to make a dad look bad in front of his kid. We didn’t stay for long.”
“I’ll take El Porto any good day over this place,” said Manuel.
The two boys paddled into shore, where they began scraping the sandy wax from their boards. They carried their surfboards up the beach, past high school girls in cherry top bikinis and blond skaters clogging the boardwalk, past bars and fake surfboards propping open doors to tourist shops carrying $200 board shorts.
“Where do you live?”
“Westminster,” said Jamie. “The Vietnamese side. You?”
“South Gate.” Manuel studied the menu of a tex-mex restaurant as they walked past. “$14 for fish tacos. They gotta be kidding. Where do they think they are, France? People should know better, this is LA.”
“Orange County.” Jamie’s stomach grumbled. After three grueling hours on the water, the smell of fried fish was making him salivate. “You know any good places?” he asked.
“My uncle runs a taco trunk, over in Inglewood. We can go, but I gotta warn you, it’s authentic stuff. None of this cheddar cheese business.”
“Sounds good to me.” Jamie found himself looking forward to going someplace without yoga studios and juicing stands on every corner. They piled their boards into Manuel’s pickup and headed west, through Orange County’s notorious rush hour five-lane congestion. Manuel blasted some reggaeton and 90s west coast rap and they lapsed into silence, letting the warm LA winds dry the sea salt on their skin. Some while later they rattled off the highway, past Randy’s Donuts onto a quiet residential street where an unassuming food truck was parked, flanked by a line of twenty customers.
“Busy time,” said Manuel. “I’ll see if I can hop in there.” He made his way to the back of the truck, where a burly man in a black apron clasped his arm. “Sobrino! You made it.”
“Hola tio. This is Jamie.”
“Welcome to the ‘hood. Hold on a sec.” Manuel’s uncle went back to flipping carne asada on the grill and stuck his head out the passenger-side window to take the next order.
Manuel grabbed a stack of tortillas and began filling them with meat and onions. “Yo. You eat lengua, right?”
“Best lengua in LA,” shouted Manuel’s uncle to the line of customers. He stuck his head back in the window. “Or at least in Inglewood. You know what they say – it’s not a real taqueria without lengua.”
A minute later, he and Manuel were sitting outside on the curb, the scent of cilantro and freshly warmed tortillas wafting up towards them. The meat looked tender and inviting. Jamie bit into the taco.
“Yo. Dude. This is amazing,” he said, his mouth full.
“I told you. This stuff is legit. Next time I’ll take you for fish tacos – and not the $14 kind either.”
They polished off their food, and drove back to Westminster with the lights of the big city behind them.
*Stay tuned for more tacos! Coming to FFK shortly 😉
- Tortillas (adapted from The Paleo Mom and Predominantly Paleo)
- 1.5 cups cassava flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 6 tb pastured lard or coconut oil
- ½ c warm water
- Lengua Filling
- 1 pound beef tongue (grassfed/pastured if possible)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 onions
- 3 tsp sea salt
- 1 tb pastured lard
- 2 tb coconut cream (take from the solidifed part)
- 2 tb extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp lime juice
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Fresh radishes, onions, & cilantro to garnish
- Cover lengua with water in a pot, with bay leaves, cinnamon stick, half a head of garlic and 1 onion and simmer for 3 hours until tender. Remove outer skin and discard. Chop meat into bite-sized pieces.
- While lengua is cooking, mix dough ingredients together until dough ball forms (shouldn't be sticky or brittle). Roll out between dusted parchment paper pieces and cut out tortilla-sized shapes (I used the underside of a coconut oil lid for this 😉 ), or break off about 1 tb of dough at a time and press in a tortilla press/roll out manually.
- Cook on hot non-stick pan or grill until slightly toasted on each side (don't overcook or tortilla shells will become hard/crunchy).
- Make crema (whisk ingredients together) and chop radishes/onions/cilantro.
- Heat up a saute pan and cook remaining minced onions and garlic in 1 tb lard. Add lengua, ½ tsp salt and cook until browned (just a few minutes).
- Assemble your tacos! Have a taco bar! Have a taco party! Eat tacos forever, cuz they're awesome.
This post has been shared on Phoenix Helix’s Paleo-AIP roundtable.