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Davis, California

Friday, October 15, 2021

Column: El Paisano

Watering holes fascinate me. They’d probably fascinate you too, if you ever found yourself out of your gourd at some odd hour of the morning listening to David Attenborough break down the balances of life on Earth. Funny that these delicate inter-species relationships often involve some reptilian colossus crushing and drowning the weakest animal it can find. That’s what it looks like to me, anyway. But I’m an English major, so what do I know.

I bring up watering holes for two reasons. One, I feel I’ve missed out on the whole experience. When I’m thirsty, I get a glass of water from the sink. It’s easy, because crocodile attack is improbable. Two, this past Sunday two friends and I visited the closest thing to a watering hole (besides a pond or whatever) we have nearby: The Woodland taco truck, El Paisano.

For me, Sundays have historically been a day of recovery, seeing as I spend my Saturday nights celebrating as if Bacchus were in my company. Well, I’ve said in the past that my column can be a place for learning, a place where I divest some of my knowledge to you, the faithful reader. Well, friends, read on.

The next time you awake on a Sunday afternoon after a night of revelry, you must seek out El Paisano. This taco truck verges on divine. They make some of the best tacos I’ve ever had, and they charge only a dollar to boot. I’ve seen people order as many as sixteen of these tacos and devour them all in one sitting. Truth be told, you’re a fool if you order less than three.

But I’m in a bit of a quandary. I’m sitting here trying to transfer my collective memories of El Paisano from mind to newspaper, and I fear I can’t do the place justice. The tacos are fantastic, but it’s really one of those things you’ll have to experience for yourself. A drive to Woodland, good company, six steak tacos and a can of Coke is really the best way I’ve spent a Sunday afternoon in a long time. (One Sunday I saw Inglourious Basterds.)

Anyway, I bring up the idea of El Paisano being akin to a watering hole because it’s a place where all manner of people go to resuscitate themselves. Just as a watering hole equates to survival for wandering beasts, (unless there are crocodiles lurking about) the taco truck is a place for man to stop so he may eat, rest and continue with life.

I’ve seen hung-over college kids, regular college kids, construction workers, cigarette-smoking high schoolers, white collar business men, police, bare-footed hippies in painted vans and – dare I say it – inked gang members all waiting in line for the same tacos. There will never be such a thing as world peace as long as humans breathe and breed, but at least we are all equal in the line for the taco truck.

The drive back from dollar taco Shangri-la is always restorative. I like to watch the farmland roll by under the wide sky as hawks wheel over silos and straight, flat highway looking for prey. I wonder if a hawk likes a field mouse as much as I like a taco.

How fantastic would it be if I had to swoop down from the wild blue yonder and snatch an unsuspecting taco in my talons, instead of waiting in line for it? I’d love the tacos even more.

I spent the remnants of last Sunday afternoon slowly digesting on my friends’ front yard, listening to Led Zeppelin, playing snappa and watching the sun set. As night drew upon us, I was warmed not only by a smooth pilsner with all-natural ingredients, but by the comforting discomfort of having eaten as many steak tacos as I possibly could have. There are few better feelings.

As I’ve mentioned on Thursdays prior, I don’t have much time left in Davis. I’ve stopped at the taco truck after many a camping trip, a river-floating session, or a whiskey-veiled Saturday night. I’ll try to return one last time, but the taco truck and I have had a good run and if I never make it back, at least I’ll have gone as many times as I have.

Yes my friends, El Paisano really is that good. It is a taco truck parked in the parking lot of an abandoned flooring company that, despite all odds, comforts the stomach, the mind, the soul and the wallet. If only I could find a woman with a similar resume, I could die a happy man.

WILL LONG realizes he never actually said where El Paisano is. The taco truck is not a place you can be told the location of, you must be taken there by one who has already been. But if you really need to know, Will might reveal the secret. Hit him up at wclong@ucdavis.edu.

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