Meet Taco Dad, the viral visionary behind ‘Travel Taco’ – Texas Monthly

Caitlin Ruiz tweets a lot about her father, Roberto Ruiz. So when she said Spread On the afternoon of Saturday, March 26, about her father’s obsession with something he calls “travel tacos,” something he claims doesn’t exist, Kaitlyn predicted the tweet would fade into the internet quagmire. you did not.

As a taco editor, I come across similar tweets and threads almost weekly. (Typically sarcastic and impressive posts from accounts whose handles contain a string of numbers.) At first, I dismissed the idea of ​​a travel taco as a boisterous name for a walking taco, like a Frito pie served in a bag. But after scrolling through the thread, I not only saw how clearly the walking taco was distinct from the so-called traveling taco, but how sincere Kaitlyn was in her love for her father and his personality. This Twitter was at its best.

Over 400,000 likes later, the thread — and nearly 3,000 responses — is still going. But what is a travel taco? According to Roberto Ruiz, an emergency medical services instructor at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi and a recently retired captain with the city’s fire department, it’s a delicate tortilla stuffed in the shape of a tortilla to reduce spillage while driving or walking. Don’t mistake this definition for an empanada or burrito, says Ruiz. The travel taco should be closed at one end, similar to an empanada, but open at the other, similar to a taco.

Internet people want to help him, too. TikTok user Blair Smith posted a video of her attempting to make a travel taco. YouTube midigitfiddle uploaded a video titled “Roberto’s Travel Taco”, recounting his attempt (with the help of his daughter) to fulfill Ruiz’s dream. The The Yale Institute for Network Science Twitter account responded With “We can totally make that happen in our engineering lab. We might call it the indestructible taco. Suggested tagline: So good you’re going to destroy it.” John Overholt, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at Harvard University’s Houghton Library, also shared, His definition of a travel taco And how it differs from a burrito: “I have one vital message for the world this evening and that is that while a burrito can provide functions similar to a travel taco, it is actually not the same as a travel taco and is not a substitute.”

I can’t help but chime in with a tweet linking to my article arguing that burritos are actually tacos. I support my claim that flour tortillas rolled, folded, and filled are tacos, as defined by historical records, scientific evidence, Mexican art, and common sense. In response, Caitlin asked if I wanted to pass the news on to her father. I froze like a teenager caught singing and dancing in his room.

But I decided to talk to Roberto Ruiz, the dad of a favorite taco on Twitter, to get more information about how he defines a travel taco, how it’s made, and how, according to Roberto, a person who calls a taco burrito should be physically examined for the monster’s trait.

Texas Monthly: How long have you been thinking of taco travel?

Robert Ruiz: It’s been boiling in me for twenty years. I work out a lot and eat a lot of stuff on the road. A lot of ideas popped into my head. One of them was, “Julie, why don’t they make tacos that don’t leak everywhere?” It is a dream that did not come true in itself.

TM: There are examples of large tacos that come wrapped in tin foil and are reasonably easy to eat on the drive, such as Laredo Taco’s tacos. Have you tried them and why don’t they work?

RR: I own. Listen, I’m Chicano, so I know how to make a taco and juggle its end and fold it a certain way where I can prevent those driving mishaps, but is that foolproof? Is Taco Travel Guaranteed? It’s basically in my mind, the way I see it, it’s a flour tortilla. (Some people have mentioned corn and I get corn. I love corn also.) I think flour would be more suitable, if there was a way to curl it up during the tortilla making process, like an empanada.

The empanada is a different animal. It’s sweet. It is more brown in colour. It’s more like bread than tortilla bread. And so on [my intent was to] Somehow duplicate a delicate tortilla that takes on some of the functionality of an empanada, with a hole at the top [that can be stuffed] With any items you want to put. I think it might reduce some mishaps. It might save a life or two.

TM: Did you test your idea?

RR: It was always an idea, but it was never anything I tried. I’m not claiming to be some kind of culinary miracle. I know the basic concept of making a masa tortilla and then rolling it out. And if you know anyone who’s ever tried to make a tortilla out of one of those little masa balls, there’s a knack for it. It’s really there, and it’s not something I’ve experienced.

TM: Your perfect travel taco shape seems to call for a new kind of comal, something a lot like a waffle iron that has an enamel coating for better heat distribution?

RR: This is what it comes down to. I would say the tortillas should be about three to four millimeters thick. But it’s really about finding one that calls for the shape of the tortilla you want so that it’s well cooked, but that you can curl up at the same time. [The folding comal] It will also have to generate heat [from all sides]. It’s a nice new idea. I think she has some legs. It’s just a matter of someone coming up with a prototype.

TM: What if I told you that the travel taco actually exists and it’s a burrito?

RR: [Laughs.] I would probably check your neck to see if you had the 666 mark of the monster symbol. Burrito and travel taco are incompatible. They just won’t reproduce. Optical is a half-moon-shaped device. The burrito is like a big cigar. You can try to encapsulate all the fillings, but it doesn’t have the same ambiguity. I might just have to partner with someone myself to make something. Then I’ll let the audience decide if that’s possible or not.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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