21 January 2007

What's Cookin'?

Tacos are one of the great joys of life in Los Angeles. The variety of tacos, and of the places where they are made and sold and eaten is truly astounding. I feel that I have only scratched the taco surface of the city and I have encountered tacos made from beef, pork, goat, lamb, chicken, duck, fish, shellfish, bivalves, insects, potatoes, cactus, cheese, assorted other vegetables, even a little fruit and pretty much any part or preparation of any of that that you can think of. I mostly eat tacos made with soft corn tortillas, but you can find them with fried tortillas or flour tortillas too.

I've never eaten a taco made from human meat, at least not that I'm aware of. But I like the signs:

The pig cooking the man graces the side of Taqueria El Trampitas, at the corner of Main Street and Gage in Southcentral L.A. I ate there yesterday and the more traditional tacos - man cooking pig (picture below) - of carnitas and al pastor were good, if not great.

The goat cooks woman taqueria is just about four blocks up Main Street, in a stretch of three blocks that seems to be dedicated to eating goat. (There must be five or six places to eat goat within a three block area.) I was too full to do anything other than stop and take a picture. I'll have to go back.

The goat in the picture is saying: "Como que birria buey." Birria is "goat," or at least cooked goat. Buey is "ox." This must mean something in colloquial Mexican-Spanish, but I can't quite figure it out. If anyone out there reading this can, please let me know.

I have since come up with two possible translations. In Mexican Spanish, "buey" is colloquially used for "asshole." One figurative translation is: "How does that feel asshole?" Another, more literal translation is: "How's that [version of] birria asshole?"

I've been on something of a taco quest lately. My favorites so far are the carne asada and the al pastor at La Taquiza at 30th and Figueroa, near USC. Still, I have a mere passing interest in tacos. If you want to follow an expert's mania for tacos, you can take a look at Bandini's The Great Taco Hunt. He has never steered me wrong.

I have also resumed my slow but sure progress toward traversing the entire length of the mighty Los Angeles River.

Now most people think I'm joking when I refer to it as "mighty." Some people don't even know it exists, they think it is simply a concrete drainage ditch. But L.A. wouldn't have come into existence without its river.

The Mississippi River, at about 2,350 miles long, is more than 45 times as long as the Los Angeles River at 52 miles. No surprise there. But the Los Angeles is steeper. It drops 795 feet in elevation from its headwaters at the Canoga Park High School football field in the Valley to where it spills into the ocean near the Queen Mary in Long Beach. By comparison, the Mississippi drops a mere 645 feet along its entire length.

At its peak flow, the mighty Los Angeles carries 183,000 cubic feet of water per second out to the Pacific Ocean. (According to the website of The River Project, that's the equivalent of 40 million garden hoses going full blast.) It's also 14 times the flow of New York's Hudson River.

One of the bike paths along the river is near my house. Here are a few pictures I took on a recent ride:


Bill said...
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Bill said...

Hey Eric, I think it translates literally as "How does it feel to be a goat, you cow? In American English you'd say, "Take THAT, Bitch." "Buey" can be used in different Spanish dialects as anything remotely bovine, for example, Knorr beef stock cubes in Spain are called "Rabo de Buey". Never heard of "asshole" as a translation, but if conejo (rabbit) can mean cunt and beaver is, well, beaver when Roberto is addressing Bobby about the chica that just walked by, well...
Any way, Gong Xi Fa Chai. The year of the Pig is upon us. Cheers.