Tacky tacos

I stood in an aisle in Cub Foods in St. Cloud, Minn.

It was about 1995.

It was the “sauces” aisle, before grocers decided to segregate ethnic foods. I was looking for taco seasoning.

For fish.

Because fish tacos were the newest food rage.

I liked regular ol’ beef tacos. Why not fish tacos?

A former co-worker found me in that aisle and struck up a conversation. “Is that you?” “How’s it going?” “Doin’ well?” “What are you up to nowadays?”

Well, I’m making fish tacos, actually.

“Ew … fish tacos! That sounds awful!”

I think I had that fake crab stuff in my cart. What did I know about fish tacos?

I think I selected some McCormick taco seasoning,

My former co-worker (who, by the way, still remains employed at our former workplace, two decades later — this was a man who likes to leave well enough alone) raised his eyebrows.

“You’re going to use that? On fake crab?”

“Sure,” I said. “Why not? It’s fish tacos — just like regular tacos, only with fish, right?”

“You let me know how that turns out,” he said skeptically.

It was awful, I’ll tell you. It’s a good thing we weren’t still working together because I would have had to admit that “fish tacos” were a terrible idea.

What I didn’t know, couldn’t know, on the land-locked prairies of Minnesota in the middle of the 1990s, was that fish tacos were a great idea.

If they’re prepared like seafood instead of beef.

Not lettuce, shredded cabbage.

Not cheddar cheese, cojita cheese.

Not salsa, spicy aioli sauce.

And for goodness sake, not fake crab! How about grilled freshly caught mahi-mahi.

That’s how fish tacos should be made.

fish taco

I was just ahead of my time.


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