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Machaca, Frijoles, y Tortillas de Harina in Qatar: This Sinaloan Chef From L.A. Brought Tacos to the World Cup

4:04 PM PST on November 22, 2022

    Photo via Misael Guerrero/Instagram.

    Photo via Misael Guerrero/Instagram.

    As today’s dynamic display of world cup action showed, no other team in the world does futból as Mexico does. It was a sea of deep green in the nearly sold-out “Stadium 974” arena in Qatar. L.A. TACO is willing to bet that out of the 1.5 million visitors who traveled from across the world to partake in the quadrennial global sporting event. No one is having better tacos in the entire Arabian peninsula than L.A. chef Misael Guerrero

    The prolific restaurateur behind all Culichitown and Mamá Por Dios locations across the West Coast has been documenting his international Taco Life on his personal Instagram account all morning. He pregamed for today’s Mexico game by preparing some burritos de machaca for his crew, including popular regional Mexican corridos artist Larry Hernandez.

    “I went to the last World Cup in Russia, and they didn’t have any food there that reflected how I liked to eat; I couldn’t find anything that tasted refreshing or spicy,” Guerrero tells L.A. TACO over DMs. “So I wanted to bring my own tacos with me for this one.” 

    Following his feed on Instagram has been like watching a reality show. One moment he is wrapping the Mexican flag like a kaffiyeh around Hernandez, another he is making up chants that rhyme with Polonia while drinking Budweiser Zero, and the other he is making insane-looking custardy frijoles puercos with asiento (delicious chicharrón paste that is common in both Oaxaca and Sinaloa) that he brought in his suitcase. He tells L.A. TACO the other ingredients he brought in his suitcase for his Sinaloan taquiza—aside from his flour tortillas, air-dried beef floss, and asiento—in the Middle East were crushed chiltepín chiles and a bottle of Tapatío hot sauce. 

    However, unlike the Russian cuisine that Guerrero experienced in his last World Cup, Qatari cuisine, for the most part, is highly seasoned, spicy, and complex. The tiny country of 2.9 million boasts traditional dishes created after generations of spice trading with India, Sri Lanka, and Iran. One of Qatar’s most popular foods is machboos, which is similar to a biryani (seasoned rice) made with lamb, chicken, or camel meat. Another Qatari dish, thareed, shares a lot in common with Hidalgo-style barbacoa, simmering lamb stock and chickpeas to create a filling stew. 

    A quick search online shows that there are well over a dozen “Mexican” restaurants in Doha, Qatar’s capital where the matches are being held. One restaurant named Isla even boasted a torta ahogada and lamb chamorro (lamb shank) on its menu. However, we at L.A. TACO understand Guerrero’s perpetual longing for anything wrapped in a tortill like no one else; nothing in the world hits like a taco—especially a taco made with love at home.   

    “You will have to kill me before you tell me I can't make tacos," Guerrero says. His philosophy towards tacos explains his line of merchandise that shares the same sentiment.

    When asked if he is going to try to make any other dishes while he’s out there for Mexico’s remaining three matches, Guerrero answered that he has his Culichi (the term of endearment that people from Culiacán, Sinaloa call each other) heart set on recreating an aguachile out there. “We need mariscos to cure our hangover already, and I’m on the hunt for fresh shrimp to make aguachile. I’ll make a video of myself making it if I find some.” 

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