Nikki Tries Two Dozen Tacos and Lives to Talk About It: Judging the Arizona Taco Festival

Taco Box -Day of Dead theme.jpg
Cool taco box
What made me think judging tacos would be a pleasant way to while away an afternoon? This is the question I asked myself -- about 12 tacos in -- at the Arizona Taco Festival held at Salt River Fields this past Saturday.

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Don't get me wrong. I love tacos. And I've judged competitions before, so I knew going in that it wasn't going to be a piece of cake, so to speak. I guess what I didn't understand is what eating 24 tacos -- or really, 24 anything -- would feel like.

Here's how it went down -- literally:

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Courtesy of Arizona Taco Festival
Here comes the judge
After checking in at the front gate, I wandered the grounds -- past henna tattoo booths, a psychic who would read my future for 10 bucks, a chef demo stage, a Lucha Libre ring and a vast tequila expo -- until I found the judge's tent stuck off in the farthest back corner, its opening facing away from the activities of the festival. Ooh, we were being sequestered. How very official!

I checked in, received a badge that would allow me to eat and drink anything and everything for free (as if I'd actually want more tacos), found a taco-judging pal of mine who already knew the ropes and joined her at a table with four other judges, three of them seasoned in taco-evaluation. We chose our team captain whose duties would include displaying the boxes of tacos as they came in and gathering up our scores after each round.

There would be four rounds, one every hour, starting with chicken (noon), moving to pork, then beef and finally seafood (3 p.m.).

Some official person stood up and explained that scoring was 1 - 9, not 1- 10, one being inedible, nine being taco nirvana. And we were ready, all 40 of us, to start eating tacos.

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WOW! I'm so HUNGRY right now! Will def have to check out Milagro and Palacio.

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