It was Friday, 4:30pm, and we had scoured the streets of Gastown, Vancouver. For those who haven’t been, the city is a myriad of food options. That afternoon, we had an inkling for some Mexican fare, but we were tired enough to settle for the next hole in the wall that would sell us tacos. We walk into Tacofino - the most unassuming of options. Modern art meets sustainability; water out of a tap; torn jeans and minimalist modern. We were at a west-coast diner inspired by surf-centric minds and hipsters.
To go forth with the irony, I order a crispy chicken taco. Sacrilege! I mean, how depleted of culinary imagination must one be? But hey, go ahead Sarah, surprise me with that crispy chicken taco. The taco comes to the table without theater nor fuss. Sits plainly on a plate, open. One look in and there lies three pieces of crispy chicken, and thinly sliced vegetables - more shaved than julienned - and a light yogurt dressing. So I pinch the two ends of the soft wrap and take one messy bite. And just like that, gastronomic epiphany.
On the way home, I thought about what made that taco so special. Firstly to say I was overwhelmed by the underwhelming order, would be an understatement. But looking into the anatomy of that first bite, I remember the crispy chicken, but what struck me was the vegetables. It occured to me that when vegetables are cut right, they add constructive texture to a dish, allowing you to enjoy their flavour. Just like nobody shreds vegetables into a greek salad. Truth is, food comes with more than a flavour profile. It comes with structural integrity. And structural integrity comes with good sense and good tools.
In the case of our tacos, it was knives that let you have your way with vegetables, transforming its texture and creating wonder in every bite. Is this a case of knives contributing to the flavour of a dish? You bet it is. If you’re still wondering, then try this:
Think about eating a tomato. Then set one on a cutting board and slice it paper thin before spreading the slices out on a plate and sprinkling a little sea salt. Now.... think about eating a tomato.
Contributor: Fernando Miranda