There’s this one question I always get asked: how do I have the time to fit in lectures in the morning, project-work in the afternoon, while managing an Instagram story saturated with #bloggermail, press events and bearded baristas in tiny independent cafés in god-knows-where?
The answer is – I don’t know. All I know is that my daily life runs in the time slots dictated by my little black Moleskine diary, the grey-bordered rectangles filled with the worst of squiggles: reservation for brunch, a PR’s contact number, deadlines for reviews… and so on. I’m someone who likes to make full use of her 24 hours – answering emails while steering away from the Mormons on my way to lectures, editing photos when the professor decides to chat about Huel instead of hydrogen fuel, visualizing photoshoot ideas while dodging pigeons on my way home. But why do I keep living this busy, structured lifestyle? It may be my pure passion for food, or the typical Hong-Kong-ese efficiency running through my veins, or the anxiety I inherited from my mother (which sometimes makes me miss my Xanax). Or perhaps, and paradoxically, the excitement that comes from spontaneity. Spontaneity, that is when one of those planned time slots suddenly gets freed up when a lecturer decides to not come to work, as happened last Thursday.
That god-sent slot of freedom got my cortisol rushing up to my head. It was an imperative for me to find something to fill up those two hours. What should I do? Do I have work to catch up on? Any more emails to answer? Books to read? Exes to stalk? That was the moment when the food-lover side of the brain came to rescue – Breddos Tacos.
This wasn’t the first time I’d done such a thing. Yet every single time these unplanned adventures get me feeling fuzzy. I ran past the queue outside Fusion, slid past a pair of Mormons down Exhibition Road, exchanged my lecture notes for my camera and hopped on the 30-minute tube journey to Barbican.
When I reached the door of Breddos Tacos on 82 Goswell Road, I was quite out of breath. And speechless at how the once makeshift taco shack in a car park in Hackney had transformed into this hip, stylish, standalone site. The space was filled by wooden bar tables, quirky wall art and a lightbox shouting “COCTELES & MEZCAL”.
I was seated swiftly by the window looking out to the quiet cross road between Old Street and Clerkenwell Road, next to two business men sawing through their charred cuts of beef from the grill over wine and margaritas.
The menu and two of their daily salsas arrived with a friendly waitress, who recommended some of their most popular tacos: masa fried chicken, baja fish and fried egg, plus a refreshing seasonal hibiscus and rosehip agua fresca. I went for exactly those and waited patiently for the food to come.
Despite it being the peak of the lunch hour, it didn’t take long for my table to be filled with a fiesta of earthenware, bright colours and of course, tacos. The baja fish and fried chicken tacos came as a pair on a black, glossy plate, excitingly Instagrammable with shreds of red cabbage, cilantro and lime. The fried egg taco came on its own white plate, the egg in a perfect circle on the soft corn tortilla with a bright orange yolk balancing on top.
After an obligatory round of photos, my growling stomach urged me to grab the fish taco. The tortilla itself was the size of my palm, disproportionate with the size of the fried fish. I folded the tortilla in half, trying to keep all the cabbage and lime mayonnaise goodness inside. At that point, I knew that all table manners or any “lady-ness” had no control over this meal. I took a gigantic bite. The party of flavours burst in my mouth: juices from the fish, sweetness from the cabbage, tang from the lime and the heat from the pico de gallo salsa. I took a sip of agua fresca to calm the heat and continued. The whole taco was demolished in 30 seconds.
Same happened for the fried chicken taco. Except the unexpected fire from the habanero salsa with the spicy, crunchy skin on the chicken.The fried egg taco was like the slow dance at the end of a ball, giving a wonderful applause to the excitement and fiery heat from before. The yolk burst into an orange river, surrounding the bits of queso fresco, macadamia nut mole and herbs. I was tempted by dessert (come on, leche frita!) but it was time for the next slot of commitments. Breddos Tacos definitely fulfilled the requirements of my definition of spontaneity for a weekday afternoon – an explosion of colours, exotic flavours and delicious food.