Monday, October 3, 2011

The Navajo Taco Isn't Arizona's Best Sandwich, Is It?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 11:00 AM


While we have no one to blame but ourselves, I suppose, since GOOD Magazine accepted nominations for their United States of GOOD Sandwiches project, but they seem to have some confusion about what a sandwich is. For example, they considered huevos rancheros and fish tacos as finalists? I love both menu items, but they're neither are sandwiches by the basic definitions I'm aware of:

"AZ is the heart of the Southwest and Tex-Mex food is the official food of the desert," one Arizonan GOOD reader writes in. "That said, our state sandwich should be huevos rancheros with flour (whole wheat, preferably) tortilla. Perfect for any meal and has all the food groups, not to mention it's importance in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy."

As an Arizonan myself, I can tell you that the state doesn't really have a sandwich. Still, I must disqualify huevos rancheros on the basis of it not being a sandwich under even the most liberal definition of the term. (Also, McCarthy's trilogy is set mostly in New Mexico and Texas). The fish taco is a good patch for the huevos rancheros problem—though not a sandwich under all definitions of the term, at least you can pick it up with your hands. But while fish tacos are popular throughout the state, Arizona isn't exactly known for its bodies of water. So I hereby nominate the Navajo taco, a delicious wedding of Arizona's Mexican and Native American cultural heritage—just take a traditional taco filling and wrap it in warm flatbread. The sandwich also represents the uncomfortable mainstream appropriation of native cultures that has come to define Arizona in recent years (even the name "Navajo taco" is a pretty crude construction). It might not be GOOD, but at least it's honest.

Isn't the obvious pick the torta? Throw whatever you want on it (my call: carnitas, always), but here and in our overheated neighbor to the north, you can get a solid torta nearly anywhere. And, at very least, it's clearly an actual sandwich. Bah.

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