Before this evening, I’d had fish tacos exactly once in my life, correct me if my exact location is wrong but if I recall correctly, it was at a small place by the side of Highway 307 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We were sat on plastic chairs, the kind that had presumably been bought in a pack of 8 from Walmart. Dirt and fumes filled the air from the road, which was all of five metres away.
Obviously, these tacos were so good that the experience of eating them was not only a spiritual one, but perhaps even bordering on the supernatural. I felt things I had never felt before while eating food.
It’s an experience I’ve never bothered to try and recreate, simply because I felt like failure and disappointment were the only possible outcomes. But tonight, in the mood for Mexican, we trawled the internet and came across this Nigella recipe, and given my partner’s fondness for Nigella is significantly greater than her fondness for me, it seemed like a solid choice, so we made it.
Again obviously, it was nowhere near as deliriously delightful as authentic Mexican side-of-the-highway tacos. For starters the whole experience felt way too healthy. I had the unnerving feeling that I was sustaining my body with the nutrients that it wanted and needed, rather than the desired one of gently poisoning my body in exchange for the pleasure centres in my brain lighting up. Baking the fish is, frankly, for cowards. There was maybe half the lime juice there should have been at a third of the requisite amount of mayonnaise at a push. Combined, even if I don’t feel like its components are currently flowing through my veins (I would even argue that is a pleasurable feeling), these tacos were only about a tenth as good as the real deal.
But, it was a start though. The desire to try to recreate some of the magic of a Mexican taqueria is now burning bright.