Barbacoa has been around south Texas for hundreds of years. Diner Courtney apparently thought she was ordering barbecue tacos. Entirely different. Around that part of the country, they didn't go much for waste.
San Antonio Express-News food writer Mike Sutter confirmed that it's not uncommon to find the odd cow chunk in barbacoa, due to the way the meat is traditionally prepared.
"The reality is this: Barbacoa is a rough business. It starts with a whole skinned cow's head, wrapped in burlap and baling wire and buried in a smoking hole in the ground overnight," he said. "In the morning, somebody with a sledgehammer opens up that skull and the harvesting begins: all the fatty and lean soft tissue from lip to crown. Sometimes the brains, sometimes the eyes, sometimes the tongue if it's not being held out for lengua."
Sutter said sometimes "bones, teeth and cartilage" end up in the meat.
If you're hungry, you eat. And if you're eating Barbacoa, you're eating cow-head. Or pig-head. Or perhaps deer-head. In any case, you're eating - which is what counts. Condiments are your friends.