by David Cecelski
The other day, my
daughter and I tried Crazy Taco in Smithfield
for the first time. It’s a tiny little take-out stand located at the
intersection of South 5th Street
and Brogden Road,
in an older residential neighborhood that is home to a lot of Mexican and
My daughter is a vegetarian and she loved the place.
Turned out she could eat both of the $3.00 daily specials. They were
interesting dishes, too. The first was quesadillas de flores de calabaza—squash
blossom quesadillas. Fresh squash blossoms are often used in Mexican cookery,
but they’re an unusual treat here.
The other special was a dish I had never seen here
in North Carolina
before, quesadillas de huitlacoche—quesadillas filled with a black corn fungus,
or smut. The smut grows on corn ears, deforming the kernels, but it’s been a
Mexican delicacy since at least the time of the Aztecs.
After we ordered the quesadilla with huitlacoche, I
called my son to confirm the meaning of “huitlacoche.” He looked it up and said
“corn smut,” at which time he cautioned me: “Don’t bring any home.”
When our quesadillas arrived, they were lovely: corn
tortillas filled with the fresh squash blossoms and the intriguingly earthy,
ink-black huitlacoche, dribbled with queso fresco and salsa verde. There’s no
dining room at Crazy Taco, just a take-out window, so we sat outside at a
picnic table and enjoyed a delicious meal and the sunny day, the first after
all the Christmas snow.