The Job You Wish You Had: Taco Editor
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
This Wednesday, Jose Ralat will begin working your dream job. That's when he joins the staff of Texas Monthly to serve as the magazine's new taco editor - sound delicious? He's also the author of the forthcoming book titled "American Tacos: A History And Guide."
Jose, welcome to the show.
JOSE RALAT: Thank you, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Before we get started, I just want to acknowledge that you have a speech impediment.
RALAT: I have a speech impediment. So let's - so this is perfect. Yeah.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) OK. So what qualifies you for this dream job, my friend? I, too, love tacos. Why not me? Why you?
RALAT: I've been doing this for a really long time. I sort of stumbled into it, marrying a Mexican American from Texas who fed me Texas Mexican food and opened my world to this cuisine. What we traditionally think of as a taco is just not accurate. There's a lot more diversity out there.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, there's a lot there. And you obviously...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Have a blog called The Taco Trail, so, you know, that does qualify you a lot more than it does me. But I guess I also want to know - why does the world, in your view, need a taco correspondent? I mean, how did they explain this job to you?
RALAT: So I pitched this job four years ago.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Now it's all making sense.
RALAT: I co-edited Texas Monthly's taco issue in 2015. I was visiting cities across Texas, eating hundreds and hundreds of tacos. There is no Texas without tortilla, you know?
RALAT: There isn't.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hey, you don't have to convince me. I am with you, 100,000%. And so I guess my question is, just to upset everyone in Texas...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Can you really get a great taco outside of Mexico?
RALAT: Yes. Can I tell you why? (Laughter).
RALAT: OK. So tacos are regional. The tacos that you get in Puebla are not the same tacos that you get in Matamoros. Tacos are representative of their time and place. And in Texas, which is a border state that was once part of Mexico, tacos have always been a part of our life here. That gives us a claim to our own style of tacos.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Now, I've got to confront you. This is a hard-hitting interview.
RALAT: OK. OK.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You haven't even started yet as the taco editor for Texas Monthly, and you are already causing controversy - quote, "I consider burritos to be tacos." And I have been following some of the reaction online. Quote, "Enchiladas are just soggy flautas," said cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz. Nachos are gentrified chilaquiles, said Laura Martinez on Twitter. Taco Twitter has lit up, my friend (laughter).
RALAT: Yes. When you go to the border, for example, you see that the terms are interchangeable. And what looks like a taco can be called a burrito just because it's, you know, large and folded over. I was surprised that this would be controversial at all, but there are always your typical contrarians on Twitter.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. That's Jose Ralat. He's been hired to be the taco editor for Texas Monthly, and he will be starting this week. He also writes a food blog called The Taco Trail.
Thank you very much.
RALAT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.