Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
My mother forwarded me a link to a Slate.com article that extols the virtues of Baja-style fish tacos. The author envies those of us, "in SoCal with a perfect Baja-style joint on every block, in which case you're very lucky and I salute you." Fittingly, since the article is part of the "You're Doing it Wrong" series, she gets it very, very right about fish tacos. She understands the joy of crunchy, battered fish and smooth, rich crema. She pushes for Modelo in the batter. She even advocates pressing and grilling fresh tortillas just for the occasion of making fish tacos. Such zeal for needless labor in pursuit of quality! It makes some sense, though, since you can't get a good tortilla in a lot of places.
The cool thing about the article is that Mom found it in the dining section of the Concord Monitor in Concord, New Hampshire. Wow. The author even mentions having fish tacos on a pier in Maine. It wasn't that long ago that there weren't really any sushi restaurants in New Hampshire, let alone places to grab something as regionally specific as a fried fish taco with cabbage and crema. I'm not saying that the rest of the country has undergone some culinary renaissance that has put our beloved mariscos in the spotlight for all the world to see, but it's pretty amazing to see a local paper in New Hampshire putting the word out there about the right way to make a fish taco.
It's a feather in the cap for San Diego and Baja that one of our greatest shared institutions is making headlines in places where California holds mythological status as a vast stretch of land filled with movie stars and parading homosexuals. That sounds facetious, but that funny/sad popular image actually does prevail in plenty of not-so-small American towns. It's nice to see something pure and true, like the fish taco, staking a claim to California's reputation in the greater world. Although it's no surprise to see food leading the way in matters of culture. The torrent of angry comments on the Slate article prove, if nothing else, that people are viciously protective of their favorite snacks. All the same, truly great foods can cross any border, which is something we know all too well here at the frontera.
Next thing you know I'll be drinking Moxie in San Diego!