We’ve all been asked that age-old question: What food would you bring to a desert island if it was the only thing you could eat?
(The other age-old question, by the way, is: Why do firefighters have to stand together in a pack of five or six at the meat department and try to figure out what to cook for dinner tonight, thereby blocking other people from picking up their pound of ground beef? Yes, they are admittedly good-looking and buff, but I don’t understand why they don’t simply do what homemakers since the time of Cleopatra have done: make a grocery list.)
But, back to the desert island question. It’s a stupid question, of course. Because after two months of eating nothing but In-And-Out burgers — double double animal style — you would want to kill the next cow you see. Assuming that’s what you chose to take to a desert island.
As for me, I always answer that question the same. I would take a chicken-and-bean burrito smothered with green chili so spicy that I would break out in a sweat. Except sometimes I say spaghetti carbonara. But mostly the burrito.
I love Mexican food. When Bill and I traveled in Europe for three months back in 2008, we loved the food — especially the food in Italy. We had pasta every day in every part of the boot. But I will tell you that after that much time eating that much pasta, the thing I craved most was Mexican food. That’s why when we got to Paris — which was our last stop before heading back to the United States — we ate our first meal at a Tex-Mex restaurant near our hotel. Yes, it’s true. We chose that over a typical Parisian restaurant. Let me assure you of two things: the food was neither Tex nor Mex, and we ate the rest of our meals at French restaurants.
I’m not extraordinarily fussy about my Mexican food, except for the fact that I like it spicy. And I can tell you right away if the food will be good by tasting the salsa that accompanies the ubiquitous tortilla chips.
Yesterday Bill and I took Light Rail downtown, for a couple of reasons. 1) We are tired of smelling paint, since our painter has been working his way throughout our house for two weeks; 2) there is a brand new Target store right on the 16th Street Mall, in the center of downtown Denver, and I have been dying to see what it was like; and 3) as long as we were downtown and two blocks away from Court’s office, we took him out to lunch. When I asked him where he wanted to go, he immediately said there was a Mexican restaurant that had recently opened on the mall across from Target that he was interested in trying. Boom. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
When we walked in the door, my heart sank. It was fancy, my friends, and I don’t want my Mexican food prepared or served at a fancy restaurant. Mexican restaurants should be family-owned, smell like frying corn chips, and be called something along the lines of Los Dos Santa Maria Guadalupe. I frankly can’t remember the name of the restaurant at which we dined. It was something along the lines of Esta Ova (though that sounds a little too much like female hormonal replacement medication so it probably wasn’t that).
The menu emphasized street tacos, most with cilantro lime crema. Nope. I like cilantro. I like limes. I like crema, especially ice crema. I don’t want it on my tacos. I want jalapenos and cilantro and onions.
And the cost of the lunch for three was $55, including tip, but not including cerveza or margarita because we all drank soda. What? And the biggest blow of all was the disappointing salsa, which we decided consisted of someone opening a can of pureed tomatoes and dumping it in a little bowl.
This is what my Mexican food should look like…..
As we made our way to the light rail station, Bill admitted sadly, “I just can’t get excited about street tacos.”
We heard the millenials surrounding us gasp in horror. No matter. I’ll take a fiery burrito and salsa that has flavor any time.