I know, the title says tacos and Texas, but you need a little pause here.

Suppose, for example, you were about to visit Italy and wanted to taste “pasta.” What are you going to do? Eat one dish and declare it over? No, you know better. But, it woud be a challenge. So many cities and regions, so many different tradtioins, so many micro-climates. One pasta dish may come from only one town and two homes on opposite sides of the town might give you similar yet distinctive dishes.

That pasta tour could be hard.

Now. Tacos. Texas. Imagine you are headed to Texas and you want “the” authentic taco. The message of The Tacos of Texas is that your are a lucky person but yous are also out of luck. There is no single “the” taco. Instead, there is a bounty of tacos and this book is your guide.

Texas is big, about 2.5 times the size of Italy. Just as you might divide Italy up into regions and cities, so The Tacos of Texas fashions ten regions of taco distinction:

  • Rio Grande Valley
  • Laredo
  • Elo Paso
  • Ausin
  • Corpus Christi
  • San Antonio
  • Houston
  • Dallas-For tWorth
  • Midland-Odessa
  • Abilene

For each region, authors Mando Rayo and Jaron Neece do start with list of the best taco places. You get much more than recipes. You get the stories of each place in warm personal interviews. And, what are their favorite places? All of sudden, you have lists here that total a few hundred stands and restaurants to try. It means that, just like Italy, you’ll have to visit more than once.

There are recipes here for tacos and for components. Different, competing recipes for tortillas, the meats, the other filling elements, and the salsas.

Some of the recipes are very simple, almost stark. It does remind you of Italian cooking where the emphasis is on simplicity. A few ingredients, but the right ones, prepared with loving care and distributed in just the right proporitons.

Don’t worry, not everything here is simple. There is more than beef + cheese + tomato + lettuce. Consider the Tacos with Cactus Pads, made with that cactus, avocadoes, jalapeno, cheese, pork rind, bacon, ham, and potatoes. Now, you’ve not had one of those?

Or there is the Chiles En Nogada with my favorite sauce: walnuts, almosds, milk, chees and sour cream. That sauce goes on beef cooked with, yes, honey. And the whole final taco is frosted with pomegranate seeds.

Every meat you might consider can go into your taco, depending on which region of the country you are in: beef, chicken, pork, goat, shellfish, real fish, and even pork intestine. Yes, pork intestine. No, I don’t think I’ll be doing that bu the Shrimp Po Boys is just what I need on a cold winter night.

This is a big book with 440 pages of ideas, lore, fascination, and food. You can use this book even if you aren’t headed for Texas. But if you do have a trip planned there, grab a copy of this and some tacos when you land. This is variety Texas style. Big, bold, and sure to please.