José R. Ralat, 43, is Texas Monthly’s taco editor and has been writing about tacos and Mexican food for a decade. He began writing about tacos for the Dallas Observer’s food blog and went on to establish his own website, the nationally renowned Taco Trail blog (www.thetacotrail.com), for which he has visited hundreds of taquerias, trucks, stalls, and restaurants. He co-edited the December 2015 Texas Monthly “The 120 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die” feature. For the feature, for which he created the evaluation sheet to be used by the team, Ralat traveled to 10 Texas cities, ate 390 tacos–not including repeat visits nor double orders–and contributed several pieces of writing. He has written for national and local print and online media outlets, including Dallas Observer, Texas Highways, D Magazine, Vice’s MUNCHIES food vertical, Eater, and more. He co-founded and curated the Taco Libre taco and music festival in Dallas, where he lives with his wife, their son, and two dogs.
José decided to become a writer because he believed it would mean he wouldn’t have to speak to many people. He was wrong. José conducts or is interviewed at least three times a day, face to face or via phone. His stutter is worse while on the phone. José’s stutter presented when he, a native Spanish speaker, learned English at the age of three. He endured years of speech therapy but none of it helped. In his case, the techniques only worked during therapy sessions. Real-life application of therapy techniques failed. Although his own father stuttered until the age of 17, neurologists were able to connect Ralat’s stutter to his epilepsy, the seizure disorder that presented when he was 10. But that association wasn’t discovered until Ralat was well into his 30s, and it wasn’t confirmed via MRI until after turning 40. Interestingly to Ralat, his stutter is worse in Spanish than in English. None of these factors have deterred Ralat from striving for his professional and personal goals, whether that involved appearing on live TV, radio, or in front of an audience. For him, the impediment is not an obstacle. José has been a member of the Dallas chapter of the NSA since November 2019.
Next time you see José be sure to carry napkins, as there will surely be tacos somewhere!
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