Monday, November 18, 2013

Johnston Street Hispanic Fiesta Too Crowded

...But that didn't mean I was going to miss out on an authentic fix of the delicious comidas tipicas I've been craving from home. My former roommates and parents, Ed and Denise, are currently visiting and together with Chaz we headed to the Hispanic Fiesta on Johnston St around 3:30 pm this past Sunday, knowing quite well that walking freely could possibly be a bit too much to ask. 

Given the Australian obsession with (what they think is) Mexican, Tex-Mex or Mexicali food, it was not a surprise that this festival was dreadfully overcrowded. SUGGESTION FOR FOOD FESTIVALS: Wide open spaces. Not a long street made narrow by tents running down each side. There's no room to line up at stalls, no room for walking and most importantly, no room for eating. Major bummer. Do it in a park or parking lot or something.
Luckily, some freakin' awesome tacos were being made at one of the first stands near the corner of Johnston and Brunswick, before the festival congestion got thick. Mexicali of Richmond offered fish or pork tacos at two for $10. Yes, $5 a taco is pretty standard here in Oz. I remember back in NYC when $4 tacos seemed expensive. If only. 
We went with two pork and two fish. I didn't bite the pork, but I devoured a fish taco in like three seconds. The battered fish was crisp and tender and topped with guac, tomato, cabbage and cilantro. It was all folded into a warmed corn tortilla and accompanied with lime. Each bite yielded fresh, well-seasoned flavors – nothing overcomplicated and nothing bland. I'd never heard of Mexicali and Urbanspoon percentages don't fall in their favor, but they certainly do know how to make a taco. Best one I've had in Australia.
I almost peed my pants in excitement when I saw the El Salvador stand. It was next to the taco stand and that was good because when we tried to brave the crowds and walk further down the street it was like my own version of food festival hell. Anyway, I basically dream about pupusas every night so I was happy to skip the rest of the street in favor of what this stand coined the "putaco." I hate the word putaco, and I wish bad things upon the person who came up with such a wretched combo of the terms pupusa and taco. Like, poo-taco... Not OK. I'm pretty sure this abhorrent name was meant to make the product more marketable to taco crazy Australians who don't know what a pupusa is. Really this was just your typical pupusa.
At $6, the pupusa was stuffed with cheese, frijoles and pork and topped with cheese, salsa and guac. It was good, but not nearly the best pupusa I've had. The fillings were melty and delicious but the dough itself got a bit soggy underneath the toppings, and the whole thing was a bit hard to eat with just a plastic fork. But look at that brown, crusted, melty cheese. YUM. Brings me back to the good days, when I thought the typical pupusa slaw topping was meant for tacos.

So, the festival was kind of a disaster, but I did manage to get a few bites in before fleeing the vicinity for higher ground. I'm realizing that I kind of dislike Fitzroy on the weekends. Sure, I like to browse the shops and markets and do brunch as much as anyone else, but I hate when afternoon hits the intersection of Brunswick and Johnston is so crowded you can't move. And I hate when drunk ass holes walk down Palmer St. at 4 AM on Friday and Saturday nights screaming like there's no one trying to sleep in apartments surrounding them. Pick a different street to be a drunk a-hole on, thanks.


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