Cesar Corripio was missing the taste of proper Mexican tacos so he decided the only thing to do was to start making his own.
“I started this project because there’s no one around doing real Mexican food in Canberra,” he told Region.
“People only know like one per cent of [Mexican cuisine] because they only know Tex Mex.”
Tex Mex is an Americanised style of Mexican food that is popular worldwide, but Cesar wanted to showcase the traditional foods of his home.
Cesar is from Veracruz, a coastal region in Mexico’s east. He explained that jarochos is a name given to the people that live around the port area. He came to Australia over five years ago and worked with his wife in their veterinary practice. They started Jarochos as a market stall at the Southside Farmers Markets, and now Cesar parks the food truck at several locations across town.
It’s a busy workload, especially with a young baby at home!
When I visited the truck in Braddon on a Friday evening, Cesar’s Mum had dropped in to give him a hand. Cesar told me that he learned all his recipes are homegrown.
“I learnt to cook from my family … I don’t want to be too romantic, but it’s coming from the heart,” he said.
“You can taste the difference. You can get recipes on the internet that taste good, but you need the love.”
Cesar has chosen to focus on traditional Mexican tacos made using a soft corn tortilla. He explained that people in Mexico generally have a diet based on corn – not wheat – so his menu is naturally gluten-free.
Cesar served me tacos with three different fillings. The longaniza has spiced pork sausage and coriander. The spiced mince has a little heat and lots of flavour. Cesar tells me the suadero is his best seller. Slow-cooked pulled beef, marinated in spices and topped with onion. All the tacos come with lime to squeeze on top which balances the richness of the meat.
The adobada is filled with grilled pork and pieces of pineapple. Apparently, the traditional method involves a cone of rotating meat grilled with a whole pineapple stuck on top! Cesar can’t do that in the truck now, but he says he owns the right equipment, so it’s on the cards for the future.
Each taco filling has distinctive flavours, which are relatively simple but pack a punch. Don’t skimp on the sauce, either! Whether you choose mild, medium or spicy, they’re all made with love to complement the flavours of the tacos. The medium sauce uses green jalapeño chillies and tomatillos, which pair well with the fresh pineapple of the adobada taco.
While they don’t look huge on their own, the three tacos filled me up perfectly. I am also curious about the cactus taco, which Cesar described as having the texture of capsicum and a pickled flavour. That will have to wait for my next visit.
There’s plenty on the horizon for Cesar and Jarochos. He’s been waiting for professional detailing of the food truck to replace his homemade cactus cutouts, and he’s planning to make some seasonal changes to the menu next year. He’s also got his eye out for a permanent restaurant location so he can expand the menu to showcase different dishes.
“Street food and tacos are just one side of Mexican food. I want to introduce this food to Canberra and show people what we can do.”
Jarochos can usually be found at the Waves Carwash in Braddon on Fridays from 5.30 pm, Bowen Park on Tuesdays from 4 pm and at Dunlop shops on Wednesdays from 4 pm, and often pop up at markets and events. They are currently closed until 6 January.