Taco Traditions

Happy National Soft Taco day!

Tacos and I go way back – like back to birth practically. I’m not sure how tacos became such a part of my German-Norwegian-Irish family’s life and traditions, but much of my childhood memories revolve around them.  You’d think we celebrated holidays with sauerkraut and lefse but nope! Tacos. Always tacos.

Every year on Christmas Eve, my family and I would make the 2 hour trek to my aunt and uncle’s house to celebrate with my mom’s family. My parents were saints for putting up with us in a car for two plus hours. In the snow. Without current technology. I think a lot of booze was consumed once we got to Arlington…

Once we arrived, typically  around 7 pm, everyone congregated in the kitchen of the house my mom grew up in and got to work making tacos. Just a bunch of Scandinavian folks drinking and making a food that has nothing to do with our heritage…

I loved those moments. My mom and her siblings turned into teenagers again – laughing, poking fun at each other, telling dirty jokes that I still don’t quite get… and my dad, he was always in his element. He had an ability to make an entire room light up and erupt in laughter. 

I was always underfoot in that kitchen, stealing green peppers and black olives from the table and trying desperately to be in on the joke.

I fucking loved that kitchen. 

After hours of drinking and cooking, someone would announce that it was midnight and officially Christmas! This also meant that it was taco time! Why tacos at midnight? I have no idea. To this day, we eat tacos for Christmas with my mom’s side of the family and I’ve never questioned it. 

Who wants boring old turkey when you can eat tacos?!

Tacos weren’t just a Christmas meal for us, they were also a Sunday staple. Every Sunday after church, my dad would pull the family Taurus into the parking lot of Dave’s Family Foods in Kerkhoven. My mom would run in to grab two important things: taco supplies and a Sunday newspaper. 

At home, Tim and I would fight over the “funnies” while my mom made tacos and my dad settled in for the Sunday football game. E&J cokes were made, tacos were eaten and the whole family gathered in the basement to watch the Vikings. 

So, to honor this day and all that it means for my family I made tacos the way (I assume) my mom did. I never really paid attention to how my mom actually prepared the tacos… I was just in it to eat… 

I’ve tried making taco seasoning from scratch on numerous occasions, but every time it’s just not quite right. I’m a little heavy handed when it comes to cumin (I fucking LOVE cumin… turns out not everyone else does…) so I opted to use a package of taco seasoning. 

It kills my soul a little to do it… there are ingredients I can’t pronounce in it!! But, on top of not tasting like a jar of cumin exploded in the taco meat, it saves Ryan and I from having the SAME conversation about taco seasoning that we’ve had a hundred times…

Literally, six years of talking at each other about how much I like cumin and how, according to Ryan “it’s too much fucking cumin!! Just use a damn package of seasoning!!”

Seasoning aside, tacos are pretty straightforward and hard for me to screw up. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I get a little willy nilly with how much water I add to the meat and the whole thing is like taco soup… but 7 out of 10 times I get it right. Tonight we were lucky and I followed the instructions on the back of the seasoning packet… the presentation got a little… blobby… but they tasted good! Maggie even declared tacos her “favorite food ever”!

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