Pica Taco: Much Better Than Eating Dirt
Tacos, I'm beginning to think, are the trendiest food in town, which, if nothing else, helps justify my reckless appetite for these hand-held babies.
The evidence: At Masa 14, I devoured the brilliantly conceived and simply executed pork belly al pastor taco, in which a sweet, slightly deflated Chinese steamed bun stands in for corn tortillas. I circled 'round and 'round Dupont Circle, then stood in a cold miserable drizzle to sample the scorching, salsa-drenched offerings at the new Tomatillo Taqueria. And I've eaten my way through various animal parts at the humble Hyattsville operation, Taqueria La Placita.
Today, I stopped by Pica Taco, which prepares what is the best lengua taco I've had 'round these parts. Stuffed into a pair of commercial tortillas, which are warmed on a sandwich griddle, the tongue is cut into thick dices and slow cooked until the texture is closer to foie gras than the chewy slabs so often associated with the organ meat. The simple onion-and-cilantro garnishes, with a small squirt of jalapeno-based salsa, brings out the tongue's subtle, slightly livery flavor. It's a terrific taco, even if you don't like tongue.
I had to admit to Loose Lips, however, that I didn't have a clue about Pica's name. That's when he told me about the eating disorder known as "pica." The definition is after the jump, but after reading it, I really think someone needs to suggest that Pica change its handle. I'm sure the owner has no clue...
Pica is the persistent eating of nonnutritive substances, such as dirt or paint.
The Handbook of Clinical Child Psychology currently estimates that prevalence rates of pica range from 4%-26% among institutionalized populations. Research among non-institutionalized populations takes the form of individual case studies, making prevalence rates difficult to estimate.
How Is Pica Diagnosed?
If pica is suspected, medical evaluation is important to assess for possible intestinal blockages, as well as potential poisoning from ingested substances. If symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical examination. The doctor may use certain tests — such as X-rays and blood tests — to look for poisons and other substances in the blood, and to check for blockages in the intestinal tract. The doctor also may test for possible infections caused by eating items contaminated with bacteria or other organisms. A review of the person's eating habits also may be conducted.
Before making a diagnosis of pica, the doctor will rule out other disorders — such as mental retardation, developmental disabilities, or obsessive-compulsive disorder–as the cause of the odd eating behavior. This pattern of behavior must last at least one month for a diagnosis of pica to be made.