"Al Pastor" (Tacos al pastor; Cabrito al pastor)

William Salmon william.salmon at YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 26 23:26:26 UTC 2007

> I just did a first draft for "al pastor." It's not in OED ("miserable
> on food, and don't even ask about ranch dressing"). "Tacos al pastor"
> are very popular in Austin.

Especially at Taqueria Aranda's on the corner of South First and Oltorf.
The horchata is rich and cold there too.

> ...
> I didn't see "tacos al pastor" or "cabrito al pastor" in Robb Walsh's
> "The Tex-Mex Cookbook" (2004).
> ...
> O.T.: I just noticed that Google ads attached a  "Liposuction NY" ad
> to this entry. Is it any wonder that I'm making three bucks a day
> (before taxes and expenses)?...I see that Wikipedia's "Big Apple"
> entry was vandalized again (someone added that "Big Apple is a
> nickname in the hood"), and John Baker thankfully changed it back.
> Wikipedia must be trying to kill me...Grant Barrett says to look at
> site "visitors" and not "hits," but for some reason, I've been getting
> 20,000 hits a day recently....Three lousy bucks for all that. Food
> history pays!
> ...
> ...
> ...
> http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/texas/entry/al_pastor_cabrito_al_pastor_tacos_al_pastor/
> ...
> Entry from November 26, 2007
> Al Pastor (Cabrito Al Pastor; Tacos Al Pastor)
> "Al pastor" means "shepherd style," a term originating in northern
> Mexico. "Al pastor" is meat carved from a vertical spit, often seaoned
> with pineapple, onions, cilantro and lime.
> "Cabrito al pastor" (goat) was first served in Texas in the 1940s.
> "Tacos al pastor" was served in Texas by the 1970s, but became a
> popular dish (especially in Austin) by the 1990s.
> Wikipedia: Al pastor
> Al pastor, literally meaning "Shepherd Style", is a dish developed in
> Mexico City likely as a result of the adoption of spit-grilled meat
> brought by Lebanese immigrants. The dish is similar to the Turkish
> döner kebab, Shawarma, or Greek gyros.
> Preparation
> Usually pork, it is marinated with a blend of different spices and
> herbs, and then slowly cooked on a vertical rotisserie called a Trompo
> (lit: spinning top), often with a pineapple on top. When ready, the
> meat is then thinly sliced off the spit with a large knife. It can be
> served with small tortillas, onions, pineapple, cilantro and lime. It
> is also a common ingredient in tacos, burritos, and tortas.
> Popularity
> Tacos al pastor, although less widely available than other styles in
> fusion Mexican cuisine, are one of the most popular tacos served in
> Taquerias both in Mexico and US latino neighborhoods.
> In some places in Northern Mexico, like Nuevo Leon, these are usually
> called Tacos de Trompo.
> Everything2.com
> tacos al pastor
> A Mexican delicacy, invented some thirty years ago in Mexico City.
> Tacos al pastor are invariably eaten in a restaurant, because to make
> them you need a vertical broiler, which nobody has at home.
> The meat is pork, seasoned with red stuff that I assume to be achiote.
> Slice upon slice of meat is impaled upon the vertical spit, which is
> then topped with a whole pineapple and occasionally an onion.
> The spit is then mounted in the vertical broiler, and the cooking
> process begins. As the outer layer of the huge ball of meat (it is
> actually called la bola) roasts, the cook (actually a specialized guy,
> called el pastorero) trims off the cooked bits and collects them in
> something that resembles a dustpan.
> The complete taco employs tortillitas: the pastorero dips briefly the
> tortillita in the drip pan (didn't I mention that the meat is quite
> fatty and releases large amounts of fat ?), slices off meat on the
> tortillita, slashes at the pineapple (which is also cooking) and
> catches the falling slice with the tortillita. The taco is then served
> with raw chopped onion, cilantro, hot sauce, and lime. Since the
> individual taco is quite small, you can easily eat five. Or ten.
> Especially if you are drinking Negra Modelo.
> One of the best places for tacos al pastor in Mexico City is called El
> Tizoncito, and it is actually a local mini-chain of restaurants. Also
> very good is El rincón de la lechuza on Miguel Angel de Quevedo.
> Another tasty one is Charly II on Av. San Fernando in Tlalpan.
> Taco Journalism
> Wednesday, May 23, 2005
> Austin Chronicle's "Best of" Taco Trucks - Round One
> (...)
> Tacos Al Pastor
> Location - 1911 E. Riverside Austin, TX 78741
> Cornbiter and myself had a tough time finding this inconspicuous
> little joint tucked in front of one of many shopping centers on E
> Riverside. The truck looked innocent enough, no real signage or prices
> displayed with a nice lineup of jarritos sodas and mexican cokes.
> I ordered two pastors on corn with cilantro and onion served with an
> extremely spicy/tasty salsa verde. The salsa made its way up your
> mouth nicely and had a long and strong finish. Now let me let you in
> on something, Belinda Carlisle must have been talking about Tacos Al
> Pastor when she wrote 'Heaven is a place on Earth." These taco's
> rocked! The pastor was diced coarsely and the meat, which consisted of
> both charred and moist pork, was seasoned perfectly. There was a taste
> explosion in every bite. Chase it all down with a mexican coke and
> Cornbiter D and myself were in Taco Heaven.
> If you are still reading this I hope it is on your cell phone while
> you barrel down I-35 on you way to this place, not to be missed.
> Tacos Al Pastor - 5 1/2 stars- jarod
> Google Books
> La raza cósmica: Misión de la Raza Iberoamericana
> by Jose Vasconcelos
> Agencia mundial de libreria
> 1927
> Pg. 191:
> ...largo y estirado sobre tres palos enterrados en el suelo, encima de
> las brasas ardientes; se llama allá lo mismo que entre nosotros:
> cabrito al pastor
> 7 April 1948, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
> Restaurant and Bar
> Front of the Market Square
> West Side
> Ribs and Cabrito (Al Pastor)
> Best Mexican Food
> Roberto Guerra, Owner
> Google Books
> Modern Mexico (Mexico Modern)
> Mexican Chamber of Commerce
> 1950
> Pg. 12:
> ... especially on Saturday nights and Sundays; and he should give 1n
> to the advertisements of cabrito al pastor (roast kid), Monterrey's
> most typical dish.
> 31 December 1950, Brownsville (TX) Herald, "Matamoros-Victoria Highway
> Short Route To Mexico City," pg. 14A, col. 1:
> Among its tourist attractions San Franando has little to offer except
> its quaint plaza, located right in the heart of the city, an old
> church, and its genuine Mexican dishes such as cabrito en sangre,
> cabrito asado, cabrito al pastor, agujitas, and its famed machacado
> con heuvo (an omelet made from dried beef and scrambled eggs). Its
> dried beef (carne seca) is famed throughout Tamaulipas and in some
> parts of Mexico. Cattle are butchered and the meat is salted (and
> sometimes spiced) and hung out in the sun to dry. Cabrito en sangre is
> meat from a kid cooked in its own blood. The dish is spiced with
> oregano, cominos, mejorana and other fragrant and tasteful herbs which
> give it a delicious flavor and a tang all its own. Cabrito asado is
> broiled kid meat. Cabrito al pastor is kid meat broiled over an open
> fire, usually on a spit. Agujitas are spare ribs broiled over charcoal
> embers.
> 16 March 1957, San Antonio (TX) , pg. 8, col. 7 ad:
> 3839 W. COMMERCE
> 20 April 1957, San Antonio (TX) Light, "Cabrito Treat at New Jasmer's
> Drive Inn Cafe," pg. 8, cols. 2-3:
> A dining treat not often encountered outside northern Mexico is now
> available to San Antonians at Jasmer's restaurant and drive-in, 3639
> W. Commerce st.
> This newest and most comfortable establishment of its kind features
> cabrito al pastor, an incomparable piece de resistance which may
> require a bit of explaining to the uninitiated. Cabrito, in Spanish
> and in the interpretation of the owner of Jasmer's, means kid or young
> goat and "young" refers to the brief life span of the goat, not the
> comparative age in terms of elephant years.
> "Al pastor" means, roughly, "like a shepherd," or prepared, with some
> refinements, in the manner in which it has been prepared by sheep
> herders through hundreds of years on the plains and in the mountains
> of Mexico.
> Broiled on a spit over hot coals, cabrito becomes one of the real
> delicacies of all meats. It is this regional Mexican food which is
> attracting crowds to Jasmer's, together with sandwiches and short
> orders with more familiar sounding names.
> 19 March 1960, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 8, col. 5 ad:
> Mario's Restuarant
> 325 So. Pecos St.
> Specializing in
> "Cabrito Al Pastor"
> 7 May 1960, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 2, col. 7 ad:
> Direct from Monterey's "Los Arcos Cafe" and introducing for the first
> time to the SOuthwest area "Mexico's Widely Known"
> Young kid with it's open hearth, cooked-in falvor—see it cooked before
> your eyes.
> (...)
> El Sarape
> 1001 Ave. C
> 8 February 1963, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 10, col. 1 ad:
> Cabrito Al Pastor
> Tacos & Tamales
> 9 April 1972, Dallas (TX) Morning News, "Cabrito al Pastor Is Favored
> Entree" by Frank X. Tolbert, section A, pg. 37:
> CABRITO is the favorite entree of most folks on both shores of the Rio
> Grande along the Texas-Mexico border. Cabrito signifies unweaned goat
> kid either broiled, fried, or roasted.
> The best is cabrito al pastor, meaning prepared farm or ranchero style
> over coals and open flame. And the very best cabrito al pastor which I
> had in my current wanderings along these borders was at a modern
> restaurant called El Rancho Grande in Ciudad Miguel Aleman, formerly
> San Pedro de Roma (or St. Peter of Rome) across the Rio Grande from
> the architecturally impressive City of Roma, Texas.
> (...)
> While we were in Ciudad Camargo, a cathedral town several miles
> inboard from the Rio Grande but opposite Rio Grande City, Mr. Boyle
> pointed out a small cafe called the Alamo which he said often produces
> a cabrito al pastor even superior to that in the Migeul Alaman
> restaurant.
> "The reason may be is that the cooks at the Alamo are specialists.
> Nothing but cabrito al pastor is served there," said George Boyle, a
> native of San Benito, Texas, and a man with a good command of Spanish.
> I'll have a report on Alamo next in my "gastronomical tours." And I
> also hope to sample a Matamoros (the big city across river from
> Brownsville) cafe called Los Nortenos which serves nothing but cabrito
> al pastor with a few condiments.
> 5 April 1964, San Antonio (TX) Express and News, entertainment
> section, pg. 6, col. 3 ad:
> Guacamole Salad, Refried Beans, Coffee of Iced Tea ... $1.50
> 720 Pleasanton Rd.
> Google Books
> Fly Down, Drive Mexico
> by David Dodge
> New York, NY: Macmillan
> 1968
> Pg. 135:
> Cabrito al pastor tastes pretty much like what it is; plain old grilled goat.
> Nobody, gringo or mexicano, ever ate birria without coming back for more.
> 17 June 1972, Dallas (TX) Morning News, "A Bouncing Bridge to Miguel
> Aleman" by Frank X. Tolbert, section A, pg. 23:
> The restaurant in Cuidad Miguel Aleman has a big menu, from frog legs
> and quail to steak, although the specialty is cabrito, broiled in an
> open pit over mesquite knot coals. In contrast, Senor Saenz's
> establishment in Camargo serves nothing but cabrito al pastor, also
> barbecued over the open pit, and sometimes served "on a stick" to
> those who want to take out.
> 29 August 1972, Dallas (TX) Morning News, "About Restaurants on
> Tex-Mex Border" by Frank X. Tolbert, section A, pg. 17:
> The Moderno has acceptable cabrito, yet it's not the classic cabrito
> al pastor, cooked over an open hearth such as you can get for half the
> price at such smaller cafes as El Rancho Grande and Waldorf (not
> kidding) in Ciudad Miguel Aleman, across river from Roma, Texas.
> 3 March 1976, Port Arthur (TX) News, "La Iguana Restaurant prepares
> food in tradition of Mexico," pg. 31, col. 4:
> La Iguana is the only restaurant of its kind that sells "Cooked over
> charcoal" cabrito al pastor (bar-b-que Lamb), carnitas (prime pork),
> tacos al carbon (beef & pork steaks that are spiced & broiled), carnes
> asadas ahujitas (broiled steaks), chorizos (sausage), pallitos
> (roasted chicken), baizas Mexicanas (hot sauce), frijoles a la chana
> (ranch style beans), homemade tamales y tortillas, also includes a
> large menu of the most popular Mexican dishes.
> 2 September 1976, Corpus Christi (TX) Times, pg. 10C, col. 4:
> Town Club members ill "visit" Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 11, in
> celebration of Diez Y Seis. The club's parking lot will be converted
> to an authentic village plaza with "puestos" offering cabrito and
> turkey cooked over an open pit, tacos al pastor, mole con gallina y
> much, much mas.
> 25 October 1977, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 7C, col. 2 photo caption:
> TACOS AL PASTOR (on the grill) one of the many types of tacos
> available in Matamoros, are prepared from a hanging wedge of beef and
> pork. Put both in a corn tortilla, add onion, tomato, caliander, and
> salsa. Ten more, please!
> 27 July 1986, New York (NY) Times, pg. XX14:
> Follow them with taco al pastor, a fresh, soft, puffy flour tortilla
> stuffed with pork, marinated in chili and served with cebolletos
> (grilled spring onions), and seasoned with cilantro (coriander).
> (Old Mexico Grill in Santa Fe, New Mexico—ed.)
> 23 October 1992, New York (NY) Times, pg. C26:
> The delicious burrito al pastor ($9.95) is a neatly folded pouch
> containing strips of grilled steak, green pepper and onions, carefully
> topped with a vivid pico de gallo and sour cream.
> (Benny's Burritos—ed.)
> Google Books
> Mexico on Fifty Dollars a Day, '94
> by Marita Adair (Frommer's Staff)
> New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing
> 1993
> Pg. 772:
> Tacos al pastor Thin slices of flavored pork roasted on a revolving
> cylinder dripping with onion slices and the juice of a fresh pineapple
> slice.
> Google Books
> Mexico 1995 (Fodor's)
> by Berkeley Travel Staff
> Fodor's Travel Publications
> 1994
> Pg. 57:
> The tacos al pastor (marinated pork, onions, and pineapple on a spit)
> cost about 60e each.
> Google Books
> A Cook's Tour of Mexico
> by Nancy Zaslavsky
> New York, NY: St. Martin's Press
> 1997
> Pg. 86:
> Monterrey Cabrito al Pastor Restaurant.
> Pg. 154:
> Tacos al Pastor. Throughout Puebla, storefronts sell this relatively
> newfangled (possibly fifty years old) Mexican taco,...
> 27 April 2003, New York (NY) Times, "Four Mexico City Restaurants That
> Stay Close to Their Roots" by Mark Bittman, pg. TR6:
> Or venture over to La Condesa, the up-and-coming neighborhood
> reminiscent of the East Village, and stop at El Tizoncito, a joint
> that offers delicious tacos al pastor, in which a coal-fired vertical
> oven perfectly browns a gyrolike affair of achiote-laced pork
> shoulder. The meat is sliced to order and layered into a tiny taco,
> with a little of its drippings, some chili sauce, a bit of onion and a
> garnish of deftly cut pineapple. You eat 5 for a snack and 10 for a
> meal. It's not elegant, and blessedly it's not pasta.
> Rosita's Al Pastor - Austin, TX (Yelp)
> Nick L.
> Austin, TX
> 4 star rating
> 05/15/2007
> You've seen how most taco stands and taquerias in Austin tend to do
> tacos al pastor: nondescript brown chunks of pork, seemingly stewed--
> not cut from a skewer, as should be the norm--and sometimes garnished
> lightly with chopped pineapples. A pretty reliable, if unspectacular
> order that generally tastes the same at most places, with the
> exception of a few outliers.
> When I heard about Rosita Al Pastor, a family restaurant tragically
> tucked away in a massive, unattractive strip mall on the 1900 block of
> East Riverside, I was intrigued. A restaurant so dedicated to the
> pursuit of turning out excellent al pastor that they included it in
> the name? What did this mean for the rest of the menu? Was al pastor
> all they served, to the neglect of other fine Mexican meats? How could
> I have driven by this place for years without ever having noticed it?
> Well it turns out that Rosita's offers a full-service menu that
> features the usual lineup of tortas, tacos (including some damn fine
> egg and potato), burritos, gorditas, etc. that you can mix and match
> as you please with assorted meats (I don't remember seeing
> carnitas—why is carnitas exceedingly ubiquitous in California and so
> hard to find in Texas?) However, you would be remiss if you did not
> pair any of these entrees with Rosita's crown jewel: smoky, bright red
> strips of tender, savory pork, bursting with flavor --true al pastor
> that I'm fairly certain is sliced piping hot off a skewer. Topped with
> some freshly chopped white onions, cilantro, and Rosita's house salsa
> verde, these tacos are pretty much perfect, I think. What's the secret
> ingredient that gives the pork that brilliant red zest? Maybe we'll
> never know. I've only seen al pastor of this hue in Mexico, and come
> to think of it, chorizo as well. Maybe someone more enlightened can
> bring me up to speed as to why that is.
> On my first visit, I ordered three tacos al pastor on both corn and
> flour tortillas. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the warm,
> fluffy texture of the flour tortillas far surpassed the corn
> tortillas, and I'm usually a corn man. So don't be afraid to be a
> gringo and ask for flour...it's worth it! For what it's worth, my
> friend ordered his al pastor on gorditas. I looked wistfully at his
> plate, as it seemed that he was given a larger portion of meat. Your
> mileage may vary. My meal came out to less than $6, if I remember
> correctly.
> HornFans.com
> hornian
> 11/16/07 07:20 PM
> Re: Best Tacos al pastor in town
> I really like the ones at Curras on Oltorf. They mix a little bit of
> pineapple in there, plus that cilantro and onion stuff, top it with
> the avacado sauce (its not guacamole, it a sauce), and it's allsome.
> Make sure you sub borracho beans. And of course you have to get it on
> corn tortillas, but that goes without saying.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

~Will Salmon

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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