WHEN I WAS A KID GROWING UP IN AUSTIN in the fifties and sixties, the regulation Texas taco was a single-sized, hard-fried corn tortilla shaped by machine into the form of a U. This was called a crispy taco. Filled with ground beef and topped with a confetti of chopped tomatoes, shredded iceberg lettuce, and grated yellow cheese, the thing was redolent of that exotic spice, McCormick’s taco seasoning. It could also be counted on to explode onto your shirtfront the instant you bit into it. Nostalgia aside, the image is seared into my memory like a bad dream.
Today, thanks to an influx of our neighbors to the South, Texas tacos are all over the map. They can be crispy or soft, fried in fat or heated on a griddle. They can be flat, folded, or even rolled,