for about 50 tacos
10 russet potatoes boiled and peeled
1 stick of butter
about 2 cups of Monterey Jack cheese
Mash the potatoes and add the stick of butter a bit at a time. Add the cheese to the potatoes and mix thoroughly. Heat the tortillas on a “comal” or flat skillet. Then spread them with the potato mix. Deep fry. Top them with your choice of ingredients.
SALSA DE TOMATE
boil the tomatoes, peel them and blend them with a bit of salt, crushed red chili and oregano. Adjust the salt to your liking.
shredded lettuce, sour cream, jalapeños, onion soaked in lime juice, salsa de tomate, queso fresco
AGUA DE ARROZ
-soak about 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water and 1 stick of cinnamon broken into pieces. After it has soaked for minimum 1 hour blend until it’s very small. Mix it with more water and sugar. Then let the rice sit while it cools in the fridge.
We were seated in the kitchen in a half circle ready to learn how to make the potato tacos. Nataly had to tell her mom throughout the day to not prepare them prior to us showing up because we wanted to watch the whole process. By the time we got there Nataly’s mom was ready to begin the process.
Nataly started by making the agua de arroz. This is a staple drink in her house “ It’s always in our fridge” she said. “ In the summer we survive on agua de arroz and jaiva.”
When the water was done and placed in the fridge to cool down they began the tacos de papa. Nataly’s mom began by making the tomato sauce. She posed for every picture and was supportive of Joanna’s desire to photograph every step. She wouldn’t continue until she made sure Joanna had a picture of everything asking “ ¿Ya le tomaste foto?” “Did you already take a picture?”
She then made way for her daughter, who looks and acts just like her “I’m exactly like mom” Nataly said “You see where I get it from?” We all laughed because we did see. Nataly began adding butter to the potatoes and she added so much butter she got some on her hair. While she was mixing the potatoes with the cheese and butter she told stories that transported us to her memories of her father and how he would make these tacos when he took over the responsibility of caring for the family while mom went to work. She reminisced about his generosity with the neighborhood children and how he would make sure all of the kids in the building had enough to eat. She also remembered when her mom once made 50 tacos de papa for all the kids in her building. When I asked Nataly why she chose this meal she said “This has been a meal we’ve always had whether it was with my mom or with my dad. We still have them once a week.”
At a certain point we all pitched in because Nataly’s mom was boss and told us we had to. We helped stuff the tortillas while Nataly’s mom fried them. As this was going on Nataly set up the table with shredded lettuce, guacamole, the salsa her mom made, onion soaked in lemon, and jalapeños. The tacos were ready and Nataly invited us to assemble our taco while she yelled at her brother to let him know the tacos were ready.
We all began putting our toppings on the tacos and her brother walked in and exclaimed “Damn Nataly mom never give us these many toppings! She never puts the cheese for us!” He was excited to have the “special toppings” which were the cheese, guacamole, onions in lemon and jalapeños. Usually they only top it with sour cream, lettuce and salsa. Some of us sat, some of us were standing, but we all enjoyed the tacos and embraced the messiness. The tacos were amazing. They were crunchy, savory, salty and just pure love. Like Nataly had told us earlier “ You cannot just have one or 2.” Everyone had three and I sneaked one more than everyone.
We washed them down with the refreshing and perfectly sweetened agua de arroz. When we were done Nataly’s mom told us “By the way the tortillas were free because I saw someone drop them and I picked them up.” It made those tacos that much better. She counted the tacos and she made 46… almost the 50.
Written by Marilyn and photos by Joanna