There are companies making a killing selling “authentic” taco kits that make meals easy by providing you with the basics while you only worry about the filling. What you end up with is a bleached out version of what an authentic taco really is. Much like what they did to pizza, Americans have taken a traditional foreign cuisine and completely changed it around.
Right there is the first problem with the American taco. Tacos are not inside of a shell, they are wrapped into a tortilla. This aversion to the correct word is just another example of Americans trying to whiten everything they get their hands on. Even if they do go crazy and opt for the soft “shell” taco, it is typically going to be a flour tortilla. Again, no. Mexicans use corn tortillas when making tacos. Not only can corn be found in abundance in Mexico where flour not so much, but a corn tortilla has more flavor.
Mexican tacos are all about the meat. That lettuce and tomato on the side of the plate is meant to be eaten like a salad, not thrown on your taco. Neither is cheese. You’ll never find an authentic taco topped with cheese, especially yellow processed cheese that has been grated into a fine dust. And chopped meat will not be an option. A real taco uses chunks of meat of many different varieties, basically from any animal found on a Mexican farm or that can be caught in the Mexican wild.
Just imagine the difference in a taco that is made from the meat of a wild boar. A hunter goes out in the forest, pulls back on his recurve bow and shoots the arrow straight into the pigs stomach. Then takes that fresh meat to make pastor, which is seasoned pork meat, before cutting it into large chunks and making tacos with the succulent meat. Recurve bow and arrow hunting is a time honored tradition of catching fresh game to make a real taco.
With the meat on the corn tortilla, all you do is add cilantro and maybe some chopped onion. You could also put a bit of avocado if you want, but the salsa used will be a green spicy sauce, not a watered down tomato sauce that is used in the states. The main garnish for Mexican tacos is fresh squeezed lime juice, and lots of it. That’s when you really know you have stepped out of taco bell and into a taqueria.