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Highland Park

Taco Sabroso ~ Highland Park

11:10 AM PDT on June 5, 2007

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Taco Sabroso ~ 1202 E. 1st St. ~ seen here @ Figueroa St. & Ave 50 ~ Highland Park

"Taco Sabroso", where the tacos are sabrosisimo. How do taco trucks manage to be there, and for you to be there, simultaneously, where it's at? It is as if we are everywhere, and nowhere, together and always apart. This afternoon the infinite worlds and their divine harmonies are tuned to the key of taco.

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I've been driving on the 210 freeway, the hills of the San Gabriel Mountains leading me to this stretch of Figueroa in Highland Park. I am here to visit Ave. 50 Studio, "a non-profit art gallery formed to support the cultural vitality of the community of Highland Park." Check out their ongoing events and latest exhibition, opening Sat. June 9, 7-10pm. I am here to see art, but I will leave having eaten the best cabeza taco I've ever tasted.

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I feel like a reptile, and the sidewalk along Figueroa is my warm hot rock. There is pavement, open garages of mechanic shops, car lots and chain link fences. People are moving now as the harsh heat of the afternoon wavers. Taco Sabroso spells it out plain and simple in five letters, and six taco styles: asada, al pastor, lengua, cabeza, carnitas, sesos. Que mas?

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If you are tall enough to see inside, the truck is as clean and stream lined as they come. The oven of meats is cornered at the end of a long cutting board counter top. The steel hood over this "horno" is lifted, and the taco dragon breaths a steam cloud into the truck before the hood is swiftly dropped. Meat hits the cutting block. I imagine "The Killing Floor". The side of the truck is an ice cooler packed with slushy rock ice and drinks like hand grenades under cold pressure. Notice the hand lettering with the stylized "A". There is taco man MMM-ing with pleasure- "delicous!!!" Just then a car load of family pull up curb side behind the truck. Looking like a scene from Vacation, they are all ages, three generations, and each one calls out a different kind of taco to the one ordering. My order is up and I head to Sycamore Terrace where the car is stationed as a taco picnic table.

This taco demonstrates the origami of taco bundling. See how geometry reveals the nature of taco symmetry. The design of the tortilla ranks with the parfletch as a masterful example of simple and functional food containment. The tortilla circle contains taco space. Even as it is devoured it holds itself in your hand. The fingers grasp for it, even as it is consumed. See, below, how the first taco unfolds from the wrapping, still preserving the second taco in its silk aluminum foil cocoon.

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Salt, lemon, radish, salsa roja. Hmmmm!!! Delicious.

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Cabeza rules here. Coagulated fatty flavor of meat so soft, meat melting. Juices running with an ironclad oven roasted flavor of salsa roja- all flavor, devouring flame of taste. This is the closest I will ever come to kissing a taco. Hey, I don't know- do you kiss your taco?

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Dusk is sweeping away the remains of the day. On the road, out of the hills to the sinking city. Sinking as it builds up, building up as it is sinking, like the "hoodoos" of Bryce Canyon. But before I part, I am encountered on Sycamore Terrace by a resident outside of whose house I am parked. She is backing out of her driveway and checking out the taco picnic on the backside of my ride. "What's that all over your arms," she aks, eyeing me with unabashed suspicion. "Paper pulp," I say, waving my hairy arms flocked with dry cotton fibers. The story would have ended there, but, it turns out, Cheryl worked as a toilet paper inspector. She said she was looking for a cushy job (haha!), to pay her way through school. No joke. And that's how this story ends.

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