A visit to the Alaska State Fair shows parents how to secretly hide vegetables inside tacos
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When she was little, Natalie Wolgemuth, like many children, didn’t want to eat her vegetables. So, her mother, Dalia, had her husband Carlos cut up mixed vegetables into the tiniest pieces possible — then she’d secretly put the vegetables into the ground beef she’d use for tacos.
“She loves anything with vegetables, and anything to hide vegetables,” Wolgemuth said.
One taco dinner became two, and then eventually Dalia found herself making hundreds of tacos at a time.
Family members would find themselves eating 10 tacos for one meal.
The family eventually started a salsa company and began selling tacos at the Alaska State Fair in a booth called Bonanza Delicious Mexican Food.
“These are not your traditional street tacos,” Wolgemuth said. “There’s actually vegetables in it. We don’t like to say that because a lot of people like to request no vegetables at the fair, but it’s mixed with the vegetables and we put lettuce and cheese (inside the taco) and then we top it with Dalia Salsa.”
The booth has a loyal fan following, but it’s impossible to get Wolgemuth to divulge the recipe — she says she won’t even tell her closest friends.
On another road at the fair, Elliott Jackson started making tacos when he was 16 at the Taco Dan’s booth.
Standing behind the grill he sprinkles Tillamook cheese inside a tortilla, carefully folds it over, and then sprinkles Parmesan cheese on top while he whistles to crooner music.
“It really does add a lot of flavor,” Jackson said.
Although it’s named for his uncle, the tacos sold here are actually the invention of his aunt.
“It was my aunt Brenda who started it, but she was married to Dan,” Jackson said. “So basically Taco Brenda doesn’t sound well so she called it Taco Dan’s.”
Women also make the tacos at El Perico Steak Tacos.
The booth is predicted to sell about 8,000 tacos this fair season.
Asked to describe what the tacos here taste like, Solange Dixon described the flavors, “It’s just like party flavors in your mouth.”
The Alaska State Fair lists more than 70 food vendors on its website.
Walking beside people carrying brick-sized fries, dripping with melted cheese are fairgoers carrying turkey legs and pork sandwiches piled high. You can also order piroshki and borscht or lumpia, kebabs as well as Denali Cream Puffs topped with chocolate or mixed berries.
Five, including Bonanza Mexican Food, El Perico Steak Tacos, and Taco Dan’s, are listed as “Mexican food” with Taco Dan’s claiming it is one of the oldest food vendors here.
Taco vendors have found themselves as much of a tradition here as crispy corn fritters and funnel cakes — if not more.
“I come here every year because they’re the best food,” said Tara Gibbs, as she ordered a spicy steak taco.
Wolgemuth wouldn’t reveal how many tacos she’ll sell this year, but Jackson said he expects his numbers to be around 30,000.
“I eat these the whole entire fair and nothing else,” Jackson said.
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