Tips From Alberta’s Taco Masters by PHIL WILSON
For Mexican chef Israel Alvarez, the tacos he encountered in Edmonton when he moved here over 10 years ago bore no resemblance to the quintessential and iconic street food he grew up eating on the streets of Mexico City. Those hard fried shells filled with ground meat seasoned with supermarket spice mixes, topped with sour cream, shredded cheddar, and jarred salsa, while undeniably delicious in their own right, are a heavily mutated version of the real thing.
take your taco game to the next level with the help of some key players in Alberta’s Mexican food community.
Chef Alvarez spent years as Sous Chef at Pujol, widely regarded as the best Mexican restaurant in the world (currently #20 on Old El Paso has its place, but we want to the World’s Best Restaurants list), and see you up your street food street cred, and has Mexican food street cred in spades. 30
His Comal pop-up series in Edmonton focused on fresh tortillas using the traditional nixtamal process, by which starchy dried corn is boiled in an alkaline solution to break down the tough outer husk of the corn and enhance it’s nutritional value in the process. It’s then ground on a special machine fitted with volcanic rock to achieve the perfect consistency for tortillas. Let’s face it though, none of us are about to go through all that to make tortillas, but there are plenty of ways to make the best out of all three essential components of the taco – the tortilla, the filling, and the toppings.