The New Zealand culinary scene is pretty lucky. We have a delicious array of authentic cuisines available for us to discover and enjoy. Sadly, Mexican food is still not one of them. Sure, you’ll find some outliers, Tacos Tocayo in Tauranga being one of them, but Mexican food for New Zealanders still generally means some crispy corn taco shells from an Old El Paso kit with spiced mince, shredded iceberg and some sour cream. Don’t get me wrong, I love that concoction! But it’s not Mexican.
Otis Frizzell, one half of Lucky Taco, also has fond memories of the Old El Paso taco but was lucky enough to travel to Mexico as an eleven-year-old and discover what Mexican tacos are all about.
Otis and wife Sarah created Lucky Taco 10 years ago. The idea came to the two successful creatives after honeymooning in LA and falling in love with not just the taco, but the taco truck. “They were on every corner!” says Sarah. “Old ones. New ones. Gourmet ones. Never-changed-in-50-years ones. Delicious, spicy, humble, fresh, honest tacos, eaten curb side with salsa dripping down your forearm.” The problem came when they were home, back in New Zealand, and had the taco craving. So Sarah began making them at home.
The pair say when we first dreamed of starting a taco truck, they wanted to focus on TWO things. One, tacos and, two, a truck. The mantra was, ’A few things done well’. They didn’t want a restaurant, or to do a full Mexican (or Tex-Mex) menu.
And in May of 2013 they did just that, opened Lucky Taco the food truck. Preceding this they travelled to Mexico for some immersive culinary training and eating.
Fast forward 10 years and Lucky Taco is possibly one of the most successful food trucks in New Zealand. Along with the truck they now have a retail range of sauces and meal kits. The book is another way you can recreate a Lucky Taco taste at home.
They are clear from the outset that this book is not a Mexican cookbook but instead how to make some of the original award-winning Lucky Tacos as well as a few other dishes Sarah and Otis love to make at home and for friends and family.
What this book does really well is explain some of the key ingredients in Mexican food along with how to create some foundation sauces and salsas, not to mention the likes of a soft tortilla. It’s a great introduction for New Zealanders to dip their toes into this vibrant cuisine.
Words by Vicki Ravlich-Horan Images © Victoria Baldwin