It has occurred to me that a lesson needs to be taught about something very near, dear, and delicious to my heart - the art and science of eating tacos. This revelation came to me on a slightly rainy and grey “Taco Tuesday” at the beloved La Vaca Margarita Bar in Pilsen. I order my standard tres tacos (Lomito, Mole, and Panza - all solid choices, but then again, every taco there is), and after several moments of patience and chips, they came in glorious splendor, surrounded by their equally delicious cousins that Ernie and Chad had ordered. And thus began the exotic dance of taco and tongue. I take a bite of Lomito - a lightly crisped and salted flank steak, accented by a soft creamy cheese that is charred just ever so gently. Impeccable. I then move to Mole, thinly shredded chicken enveloped by a cornucopia of flavors and spices...bits of ancho chile, toasted bread, and chocolate harmonize in a delectable symphony of culinary mastery. Yum-town. I now grip the soft corn tortilla shell of the Panza, and the perfectly seared pork belly fat drips carelessly to my plate...but not for long. It’s immediately in my mouth, and my tongue absorbs the warm oily juices just as the thick crema cools it from above. Heaven. I breathe in deep and contemplate each taco thoughtfully, and witness how they evolve as they wait for my next move. I am ready and willing, but I feel it’s socially acceptable to check in on my two compadres...who have been watching my savory samba with expressions of confusion and concern.
Here’s the deal. One does not simply eat an entire taco before moving on to the next, provided, of course, they are different tacos. Unless it’s the infamous dessert Choco Taco, which is so good I made a rap about it, but that is a tale for another time. The issue remains that any taco enjoyed with another different taco must be eaten in incremental bite-sized rounds as opposed to sequentially by taco, lest you do yourself a huge delicatory disservice. This proclamation is backed by the science of what I like to call the Law of Tacodynamics. Allow me to illuminate your mind (and eventually, your tongue and tummy).
Let’s start with a few assumptions that I believe we can all agree on.
These six assumptions can be illustrated superbly below.
There are other assumptions of course that are impossible to standardize, such as how many bites it takes to consume a taco, the rate at which different ingredients decrease in temperature, the ambient environment of the taquería, and the time at which each taco is prepared and delivered to your table for consumption. But for the sake of this conceptual argument, let’s let those slide for now. These uncertain variables will be accounted for later.
Here’s how anyone living in ignorant sin might eat them.
As you can see, this poor soul has decided to eat the Lomito in its entirety before moving onto the Mole. After the Mole is completely consumed, they begin their Panza. They end their meal and they are probably satiated (full). But are they delighted? Did they savor every bite, knowing it was the best possible bite of all bites? I would emphatically argue,iNO!
Look above. When they begin the Panza, it’s at merely a third of its ideal temperature, which, as we’ve established in assumption #4, is immediately after it’s served. It has been waiting, yearning to show you what it can offer. But by the time you get there, is it even dripping its wanton juices? Or has it simply resigned itself into a semi-gelatinous meat paté of sloth, having equated itself as worth nothing more to you than slightly better seasoned catfood? No. By God, no.
In Incremental Taco Eating (ITE), you consume each taco bite-wise, round-robin style. Every bite is not only a new experience, but a choice. After your three bites, you have all the data available to make informed decisions. Maybe your Mole is a bit cold. Why would you waste an entire taco’s worth of enjoyment for the mere sake of eating sequentially? “But Christmas,” you ask, “I’m going to eat the three tacos regardless. Does a slight decrease in temperature really affect my enjoyment of the next taco?” To that my friends, I would say, yes it most certainly does. There is another element at play here which I haven’t yet revealed, which I like to call the fullness factor.
Rational people such as yourselves should also be able to agree that the first bite is typically the best bite. Your second best bite is the second. And the third is the next best. And so on. This can be quantified by the following equation:
B1 > B2 > B3 > B4 ...> Bn, where B = Bite and n = total number of B
This phenomena is due to the fullness factor. When you’re hungry, you enjoy your food more. Think about before you take your first bite. You’ve ordered your food, and you wait in anticipation. You can picture it, and each passing moment reminds your tummy that pleasure and satiation is near. When the food arrives, you are ready with wanting. Your first bite is nirvana. Your second is heaven. Your third is paradise. Your fourth is bliss. Your fifth is happiness, and your immediate hunger begins to subside. Your sixth, joy. And so on. But we can all see the trend. Nirvana is clearly better than joy. Each bite incrementally satiates your hunger, while gradually decreasing your perceived enjoyment. By the time your 20th bite rolls around, it’s like remembering you have a $10 off coupon for an oil change. It’s nice, but honestly, fairly forgettable. And you’ll easily survive if you don’t use it. And actually, there is a point in time where the bites become simply unenjoyable because you’re so full it’s becoming uncomfortable. Shall we graph it? Why, I thought you’d never ask.
So now what? This is where Tacodynamics really gets spicy, all puns intended. Let’s do some brain yoga.
In assumption #2, we establish that hot tacos are better cold tacos. Our enjoyment is derived from the temperature of tacos, so higher temperature is akin to higher enjoyment, and lower tacos are akin to lower enjoyment. Erego,
Ideal Temperature ≈ Enjoyment
We’ve also established that fullness is a function of bites, which will continuously occur over time until you decide to stop or pass out. So now that we’ve got our variables, we can superimpose our graphs together.
Now, let’s take it one step further. The area under both lines, below the apex of the fullness factor line, determines our maximum concentration of enjoyment.
You see, mis amigos, Panza may in fact be the best taco your mouth has yet to experience in STE, but by that point, you’re already on the downswing of enjoyment. Whereas in ITE, you’ve had your bite of Panza by bite 3. And now you have the knowledge (and thus, power) of all tacos. You know which one is hottest, which one is tastiest, which one is likely to cool the fastest (pro tip: eat fish first), and which ones need to be eaten quicker lest the tortilla become so juicy it falls apart. With every bite you can reevaluate what is the next best choice as you continue on your journey of satiation. The next bite is always yours to choose, and you will do so with confidence - knowing you’re in for optimal enjoyment all the way.
Choose Incremental Taco Eating. No thanks necessary, but you’re welcome.
P.S. Behind the scenes hypothesis: