It is late at night, and you’re heading home to the Westside, and you pass the small phalanx of trucks that park on the north side of Third Street near Normandie, almost the last scraps of taco culture before you reach the blander precincts of Hancock Park. And perhaps you’re attracted by the La Tehuana truck, whose blinking crawl advertises not just carnitas but the broad Oaxacan-style tostadas called tlayudas, which often come smeared with a paste made with equal parts of pureed black beans and freshly rendered lard. A pork fiesta, you may be thinking.
But when you pull your car into the parking lot of Lucy’s 24-hour laundromat/wateria, and you make your way up to the truck, you will find that the woman behind the counter is slightly unclear on the concept of tlayudas, but rather firm on the unavailability of carnitas, which sold out almost before it turned dark. You can leave, or you can settle for tacos made with trompas, which is to say a kind of carnitas made with the pig’s snout. You take a step back toward your car. But then you notice that the tacos are made not just with fresh tortillas but with tortillas made to order from little balls of fresh masa, and that the red-chile salsa seems to be hot enough to flush the neck of the tattooed dude who was a couple of places ahead of you in line.
So you get a few at $1.25 per, you pour on a choking glob of the chile plus a bit of the thin, salty taqueria guacamole, and you blast yourself backward a few steps. If you can bring yourself to ignore the whole snout thing, trompas are among the crunchiest of meats, like a delicious if slippery version of fried chicharrones, and they have caramelized nicely from their long bath in the simmering lard. The bottle of mango Boing is cold. The tortillas are thick and soft and warm. You have settled into the night.
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