The meat in the taco snap above? Camel. And, why not? According to i24news.tv, the camel, "dubbed the 'ship of the desert,' occupies a significant place in the culture of the Arabian Peninsula." In fact, the story continues, in the United Arab Emirate, there are "camel races, camel beauty contests and competitions for the tastiest camel cuisine."
And now -- tonight only -- you can eat camel tacos at Los Chingones, Troy Guard's edgy shrine to tacos on Upper Larimer.
Lou Ortiz, Los Chingones's exec chef, currently showcases a "wild taco" of the day, and over the past few weeks, he's highlighted fried oysters, pork stomach, fried python, worm chicharones and rabbit. "We're trying to bring in the weirdest shit we can get," says Ortiz, who procured the camel meat from his sales rep at Shamrock.
The meat, which is crumbled and braised in a rondo pot, a large, shallow vessel with a wide heating surface, arrived in a ten-pound block, and while the meat mimics the texture of ground beef, it's significantly leaner -- and it tastes like a cross between lamb, beef and pork; it's not remotely gamey or pungent. Ortiz coaxed out the maximum flavor of the meat by dusting it with spices, including allspice, cayenne pepper, cumin, cloves, red chile flakes, salt and pepper. The crumbles are mounted on a corn tortilla, topped with cabbage and tomatoes and zigzagged with a Middle Eastern-style yogurt sauce. In addition to the camel taco, which Los Chingones launched last Wednesday -- hump day -- Ortiz and his kitchen crew are also unveiling an Asian-style raw steelhead trout taco.
And starting next week, Ortiz plans to feature his "wild taco" for an entire week, rather than just a day, and they'll all be market priced, depending upon the protein. Speaking of proteins, Ortiz was making a list of future tacos when I stopped in earlier today, and it's nothing short of exotic: scorpion, grasshopper, cricket, pigeon, bat, ant larvae, chicken feet, bone-in frog legs and more snake tacos.
"We always want to have something on the menu that people don't expect," notes Ortiz. "I love the idea of someone coming in and thinking, 'What the fuck am I about to eat?' and trying something that's completely new -- a reckless, edgy, wild and badass ingredient that might only come once in a lifetime," he adds.
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Once Los Chingones rolls out its "Wild Week Taco" -- and it should be soon -- we'll profile the featured taco every week on the Cafe Society blog. In the meantime, there are only about twenty orders of the camel meat tacos remaining, so if you want one, you'd better hustle.