North Carolina’s Hispanic (mostly Mexican) population is booming, with many settling in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill “Triangle.” In the story “Carolina Cocina,” from the September “Latino Food” special issue, Gourmet digs into what the changing demographics mean to the local cuisine. The magazine found some great restaurants, to be sure, but the piece also provides a look at how recently arrived immigrants can stay true to their food even while adjusting to life in a new country.
Prowling through the Triangle’s taquerias and luncheros (lunch trucks), the writer discovers that the Latino eateries cater overwhelmingly to Latinos, making for food that is more true to its roots than in other cities where the cuisine gets adjusted to suit local tastes. Items like cabeza (cow’s head), deep-fried carnitas done to perfection, and pork pastor pop up throughout what turns out to be an ode to traditional Mexican fare, as well as some fine-sounding ’cue at takeout stands like Miranda’s (now known as Taqueria La Vaquita):
The barbacoa is so good at Taqueria La Vaquita—so juicy and dark and perfectly seasoned—that it might almost be some long-cooked daube at a reputable bistro in Provence.
The Triangle was already a foodie must-see for the coleslaw- and vinegar-enhanced barbecue; now you can add mole poblano to the list. Chowhound cofounder Jim Leff beat Gourmet to at least part of the story, and his travel journal from North Carolina is definitely worth a read.