I’ve lived in the midwest for about 9 years, but at my core, I’d say I’m an East Coaster. Moreover, I’m a New Yorker, as I think almost anyone who’s ever lived even close to the state for more than 13 minutes probably calls themselves. Our upstate reservoir water gets in your blood, and it’s hard to shake. I’ve adapted to my surrondings, though, on some things. Soda should never be pop, and the there is no difference in the name of the shoes I wear to the gym and the Chuck Taylors I wear…they’re both sneakers. But I have grown to love the Cubs, the Bears, and I adore Lake Michigan and hot dogs without ketchup (sometimes.) And taco salad.
Apparently in my youth, while I was eating god only knows what on most weeknights, midwestern families were eating taco salad. Somehow, I embraced the tradition without ever realizing I was embracing something. One night, early on after moving to Falconhead, I made what I would call taco meat and put it on top of some lettuce and tomatoes. And a favorite meal was born.
But you see, in these parts, there are many different varieties. My girl L makes hers with Thousand Island dressing and Doritos. J piles blue cheese dressing, tortilla chips, and tons of sour cream and cheese on his. As for me, I tend to like it strangely plain. I like the spicy, vegetable-filled meat spread on a giant pile of lettuce and tomatoes, topped with a nice balsamic vinaigrette and maybe a smidge of cheese, and that’s it.
J recently told me that this does not define taco salad, but I don’t care. For me, it’s the quickest, healthiest, and easiest meal I can make while still technically cooking, and it has the super power of always, and I do mean always, making me insanely happy and satisfied.
So tell me. Is this just a midwestern thing? Or does it exist…elsewhere?