Years ago, a reporter with the New York Times asked me a simple question: what constitutes a taco? After thinking about it for a bit, I said it's a folded tortilla stuffed with ingredients.
"How about if it's a slice of bread, folded?"
No, I responded. It wasn't the form itself but content mixed with form--in other words, it's the folding of a tortilla for a singular meal that makes a taco. It's why the lettuce you use to wrap around cha gio doesn't make it a Vietnamese taco, why using rice paper in Korean BBQ doesn't make Korean tacos, and why getting a pita and wrapping it around shawerma doesn't make it an Arabic taco (unless, of course, it's a taco árabe).
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But we now live in a postmodern, post-Reconquista world, so tacos are apparently whatever people deem tacos to be. And that's how we've come to this: Taco Bell has announced a push toward breakfast in March with the introduction of breakfast waffle tacos.
The move, in the works for about a year, is genius, actually: The Bell has capitalized on the burgeoning Tex-Mex breakfast taco fad coupled with America's love of all things waffle to create an unholy mestizaje that will be ridiculed by Baylessistas and gobbled up by the rest of America.
But is the waffle taco a taco? I still say no--after all, if the form is all that defines the taco nowadays, then Bruxie's bold fold has actually been tacos for years. But what do I know: we've now entered a Brave New Taco World. Are you hep to the jive?