When Billy and I first started dating, I used to try to cook everything I could just so I could introduce him to all of the dishes I grew up cherishing. I really wanted him to get a sense of who I was through food, and I wanted him to learn about all of the bits and pieces of my culture and traditions he didn’t know. Last year, he finally had the opportunity to experience the place where my roots stem from–Colima. He got to taste all of the dishes I talked so much about, he got to meet the aunts that have always kept me laughing (and very well fed), and the loving grandparents who have taught me so much about life.
Traveling to Mexico at a young age was always a bittersweet because my parents were undocumented when I was growing up. Not only did I have to travel by myself from time to time, but I always felt guilty that I had the opportunity to enjoy what they couldn’t– spending time with their family.
I have a deep appreciation for my maternal grandparents because they’ve always treated me like their own child. They have provided me with an immense amount of love and support and they’ve always been really great examples of what I should aspire to be, a hardworking, humble, and appreciative individual.
To this day, my grandma has continually worked hard to help her household make ends meet. For as long as I can remember, she’s walked the pebble stoned streets of Colima selling the fresh cheeses she’s made every morning. She’d get on the ruta in Comala bright and early and walk around for miles and miles carrying various cheeses on her back and during the weekend, she’d transform her living room into a small restaurant and sell pozole, tacos de papa and sopes to everyone en la colonia.
I really wanted to spend my Birthday in their company this year because I enjoy being surrounded by so much love, mis tí as las pericas, and all of the good food I could ever want.
We were fortunate to swing by while my grandma was still selling food during our last day there. She offered us sopes, pozole and tacos, but I settled on tacos de papa because she makes them like no one else!
Tacos de papa are pretty basic. They consist of a deep fried tortilla shell stuffed with a mashed potato filling and they’re topped with shredded cabbage, sliced tomato, diced onion, heaps of cotija and a garlicky tomato sauce.
These tacos are a good reminder of my grandma, and they instantly transport me back to Comala whenever I have them. If you have the opportunity to make them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and I hope they bring you warm memories, just as they do to me.
- For the taco filling:
- 1½ lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- For the sauce
- 4 large tomatoes
- ¼ white onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tomatillo
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1½ cup chicken stock (or sub in your favorite veggie broth)
- shredded caggabe
- sliced tomato
- cotija cheese (use your favorite vegan substitute)
- diced white onion
- sliced radishes
- For the filling: Place your potatoes in a large pot or dutch oven, cover with water by about an inch and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer your potatoes for 15 minutes until they're soft.
- Transfer your potatoes to a bowl, mash, and season with salt and pepper.
- For the sauce: In a large pot or dutch oven, add the tomatoes, onion, tomatillo, and the garlic, cover with water by an inch and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes so the tomatoes get soft. Strain the vegetables then add to a blender pitcher with the chicken stock, salt and cracked pepper and blend until smooth, making sure not to seal the lid completely so your blender doesn't explode and burn your skin with tomato juice.
- Transfer the mixture back into the pot and simmer for 15 minutes
- For the tacos:
- Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet, then working in batches of 3, pop your tortillas in the microwave for about 20 seconds. (Cold tortillas will rip) Add ¼ cup of the mashed potatoes to each tortilla, fold the tortilla over and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until crispy and golden brown.
- Garnish with a little shredded cabbage, a tomato slice and then pour some of the tomato sauce over each taco. Finish by garnishing with some onion, radishes, and cotija.