Essential T: Mexican Truffles Go Mainstream at the Huitlacoche Truck

Edgar Mendez is running a corn smut theme park on wheels
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Huitlacoche is easy to find in Los Angeles at places like the Mercado Olympic or at our endless array of D.F., Oaxacan, Pueblan, and State of Mexico restaurants. But the stuff there is most likely canned, and, as adventurous as it feels eating Mexican truffle quesadillas on the street, you haven’t really experienced this dish prepared from the real deal. That’s where the Huitlacoche Truck comes in.

Simply stated, huitlacoche is corn smut—a fungus, really—that forms galls on the outside of an ear of corn, colored in an ashy smoker’s lung black. These tasty tumors are a delicacy in Mexican gastronomy, loaded with protein and higher in the amino acid lysine than otherwise non-diseased corn. As you could guess by the name of the truck, they’re also chef and owner Edgar Mendez’ muse.

Mendez worked his way up through kitchens over the past ten years—the last two were spent running the kitchen at a Russian restaurant prior to opening his food truck back in September of 2015. He serves lamb tacos and quesadillas based on cooking technique he learned at the Russian restaurant, while his huitlacoche recipe is pure Puebla, sautéed with epazote, onions, and corn. Mendez’ grandfather, who lives in Puebla, purchases huitlacoche, has it frozen, then his mother brings it back to L.A.

The Huitlacoche Truck sets up outside the Little Bar offering its huitlacoche tacos; you can also have it in a quesadilla, and pretty much any other dish you want to augment with this prized delicacy. Mendez refers to his cuisine as fusion, but it’s more a part of the evolving Mexican-American story here in L.A., where young Mexican chefs and restaurateurs draw from their heritage as well as their multi-cultural experiences to reflect a homegrown style. It’s a style that says it’s okay to have your huitlacoche in a taco, even though that’s not the way they do it back in Puebla. Just don’t tell grandpa.

Huitlacoche Truck, sets up at the Little Bar Lounge, 757 S La Brea Ave., Miracle Mile, (323) 937-9210