A Rind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
We can all be seen sneaking a pork taco at Barajas Tacos at one time or another, right? It’s been there for ten years now and for five of them Rubén Vicente Higuera has been our very own Beni Hana of pork. He’s a vision with a cleaver.
MM: Rubén, do you have a nickname?
RVH: Yes, when I was born I was really big….I weighed 4.8 kilos, and I immediately became “El Kuino.” It means baby pig.
MM: No way! How could anyone know you’d actually end up in the business of selling pork? Strange how that seems to happen around here. Did you grow up in Todos Santos?
RVH: No, I was born in Sinaloa and moved here 15 years ago. My Aunt Maria del Rosario and Uncle Hugo Díaz were living in Todos Santos. I actually sneaked across the border at 14 years old and was working in a Chinese restaurant when I was caught and deported back to Mexico.
MM: That must have been hard for you.
RVH: Yes, at first it was difficult to make friends, but I’ve worked here for 5 years and I know all of Todos Santos now.
MM: What do you like about your job?
RVH: I like everything, especially talking to the customers.
MM: What did you think you would be when you grew up?
RVH: I wanted to be a musician. I play keyboards. I play and sing romantic love songs, but only at home.
MM: Have you been able to travel anywhere or dream about going someplace special?
RVH: I’ve been to Mexico City, Ensenada, Long Beach and San Diego. I would really love to go to Las Vegas and gamble.
MM: Do you cook at home? What do you like to make?
RVH: Yes, I cook everything, especially mariscos. There’s a special dish I like to make called gorditas a centadas. It means seated fat ladies. It’s made from corn, pork, and meat fried in lard and smashed a lot.
MM: What about here at the stand….what is the specialty?
RVH: Definitely ribs. Most people eat the backs and that’s the driest part. The juicy part, called costillitas, is the best. I save certain parts of the ribs for my friends.
MM: Do you do the cooking here, too?
RVH: No, a young guy named Juan José cooks in the kitchen across the street. I just serve.
MM: Are there other Tacos Barajas elsewhere?
RVH: Yes, there are three brothers and they each have one. The other two are in La Paz and Guadalajara.
MM: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened here?
RVH: The shrimp cart exploded once, but nobody got hurt.
MM: Remind me not to sit near it. So Rubén, what do you think of all the changes happening around here?
RVH: I think they’re good. I talk to more Americans than Mexicans. I think we all have a good relationship. I would like to see a movie theater, though. And it would be great if we had a performing arts school. I enjoy going to hear music every Sunday at Santanas.
MM: Is there anything special you would like to say to all your friends?
RVH: Yes, stay away from drugs. Play sports. You know, we have a lot of really good baseball players here.
MM: That’s good advice, Rubén. Keep on chopping!
Many thanks to Eric Ochoa for translating