Earlier this week the Dallas Morning News published a list of the best tacos in Dallas according to critic Leslie Brenner. Said list isn't sitting too well with a couple of local bloggers, who are calling Brenner out on what they say are pretty serious errors.
Scott of the gianduia-obsessed and ever-insightful DallasFood.org made a detailed post earlier today pointing out that Brenner clearly doesn't understand what "pancita" is, despite "despite being the chief food writer for a newspaper serving a city that's over 40% Hispanic or Latino." She identifies (and highly recommends) the taco filling at Taqueria La Candelaria as goat belly, while Scott argues that it's more of a "Mexican haggis," to put it simply. "Brenner either (a) did not eat the pancita she tried to describe or (b) is unable to tell the difference—by sight, taste, or texture—between goat belly and a mixture of boiled offal," he proclaims, implying that one would expect a professional food critic to possess that ability.
Resident taco expert José Ralat of The Taco Trail expressed similar sentiments yesterday via email and also pointed out Brenner's misuse of the term "cachete" (she uses "chachete"), which is beef cheek. (That error appears to have since been corrected.) Says Ralat: "As an official critic, Brenner must realize that she is considered an authority. Whatever she publishes goes out into the world and is believed by loyal readers. It is her responsibility to make sure it is correct." Ralat also reached out to Brenner directly on Twitter, saying, "You need an editor & a proofreader, and I'd be happy to give you access to my reference library. All you have to do is ask."
To that end, he posted a photo of the pancita entry from what he calls "the definitive guide to Mexican cuisine," the Larousse Diccionario Enciclopedico de la Gastronomia Mexicana. Perhaps food writers attempting to cover unfamiliar taco fillings ought to stock their bookshelves with this one. Eater has reached out to Brenner for comment and will update with her response, if any.
UPDATE: Reached via email for comment, Leslie Brenner had this to say: "Pancita literally means "belly," according to Jorge Chavez, news editor at Al Dia. It can be pork belly, beef belly or goat belly. It can be offal, or something more like what we call pork belly. What I ate probably was offal. As Jorge pointed out to me, 'If it's well prepared, it shouldn't taste like offal.' As I wrote, the pancita at La Candelaria had a richer, more assertive flavor than the chivo. I did not write that it was not offal, so no correction on that is required. "
[Photo: Taco Trail]