Montreal

Battle of the tacos: When does a taco lose its meaning?

What’s in a taco? In light of a new Sushi Shop ad for sushi tacos, CBC Montreal’s Daybreak sought to find the answer to the following query: when is a taco not a taco?

Mexican street food has gained a lot of movement in Montreal — but when is enough, enough?

What makes a taco a taco? That's the question CBC Daybreak asked two Montreal restaurants. In this picture: Grumman 78's chorizo and matane shrimp salad taco, and steak with burnt onion and béarnaise sauce taco. (Submitted by Hilary McGown)

What's in a taco? The answer to this question can get quite metaphorical or literal. In light of a new Sushi Shop ad for sushi tacos CBC Montreal's Daybreak sought to answer find the answer to the following query: when is a taco not a taco?

We took to the streets to ask Montrealers what type of taco they preferred and spoke to two taco specialists from different worlds.

The first was Mexican-Montrealer Judith Benitez, who is also an employee at traditional taco restaurant El Rey del Taco.

Benitez says whenever she travels, she tries to pin down the place that will serve the most authentic taco. She takes comfort in working at El Rey del Taco because of the authentic Mexican cuisine.

"We're looking for a place where we can feel at home," she said.

Judith Benitez says she take comfort in working at El Rey del Taco because of its authentic Mexican cuisine, which includes traditional tacos. (Rebecca Ugolini/CBC)

Benitez was not impressed with the Sushi Shop taco.

"It's just keeping the shape so it's not exactly what you're looking for" she said.

Benitez says the perfect taco includes: a soft tortilla, some sort of meat or beans, some onions and some coriander.

People who texted in to the show agreed:

"As a former resident of Mexico City, a taco with a crunchy shell especially from a box or else one bought at Taco Bell may very well be called a Gringolandia taco." — Dani V. from Montreal West.

"I'm sorry but you just can't eat 'carnitas' with cabbage, that is just wrong. Cilantro, white onion and a few green lemon drops in a corn soft tortilla; now I'm hungry." — Edgar Viramontes in Lachine.

But not everyone in the conversation was a taco traditionalists.

Fusion taco love

Co-owner of Grumman 78, Hilary McGown, described the fusion tacos in Montreal to be a bit more high-end than the Tex-Mex styled tacos in the US.

She said that Montreal had hit critical taco mass, pointing to Saint-Henri as being "Little Mexico."

"Taco lovers know where to go get their fix," she said.

Hilary McGown, co-owner of Grumman 78, says mixing cultures to make a taco is "beautiful." (Rebecca Ugolini/CBC)

McGown said she could not judge what others decide to put in their tacos. She described mixing the different cultures that go into making a taco as "beautiful."

"We use the tortilla as a vehicle to put delicious things on it," said McGown.

Some texters agreed with McGown.

"Traditional? There is nothing traditional in a taco. A taco can be made with salt only or a fancy cut of meat." — Omar Vazquez from downtown Montreal.

"Wonder bread taco… Spread peanut butter and jam… Fold… Eat… Mmmmmmm." — Brian Wright in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

We're still not convinced and want to keep the taco duel alive. What makes a taco a taco? Tweet us @CBCDaybreak and @CBCMontreal.

With files from CBC Daybreak

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