Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mission: Burrito Part 2

A nacho, for those uninformed, is a delightful tortilla chip treat, mini meals on a corn platter served to satiate hunger either as an appetizer, or a full meal. The pagans would have you believe this word is synonymous for dog pile, a term for a mass of bodies haphazardly strewn about. The generic nacho, found in traitorous Faux-Mex restaurants, piles ground beef, cheese and whatever cheap toppings they can quickly dump on a plateful of chips. Some would say this is the original nacho, and worship it almost ritualistically. Religion, however, has taught us the fate destined to worshippers of false idols.

A true nacho is an individualize piece of art. They were first given to us by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, who was looking for a way to appetize the wives of some U.S. soldiers, who were passing through his restaurant after it closed, using what little he had in his kitchen. Amazingly, these gems have grown over time, and become as unique as the chefs who create them. The foundation is the same - a tortilla chip (which can be made by
frying flour / corn tortillas or by buying Tostitos) - but the toppings vary. The consistent theme is that each chip is paid individual attention, as any true artist must give his medium. The result: a colorful, delectable and irresistible meal.

Coming from my background, I had always enjoyed the nacho for its presentation and its taste. Any true Texan will tell you
"if there ain’t a piece of meat on each chip, it ain’t a nacho". They all have their personal favorite locales, and their anecdotes on how to make them, but the discovery of my perfect nacho came completely by accident. No special research was done, no word of mouth received. I was led to this discovery by the one inviolate rule of foodist culture - the nose knows. Driving down the street with a couple of friends, I was fighting with the unruly back seat driving of a ferocious appetite. In line with my characteristic flair, I was driving windows down letting the breeze blow in with my left arm hanging out of the window.


Abruptly, I slammed on the brakes. All faces in the car were wrought with fear, save one, that was both puzzled and excited. That smell...that heavenly and alluring smell. I felt uncontrollably compelled to it. Like a sailor to a siren, I found myself inexplicably u-turning to seek the source of this cosmic attraction. I turned a few more times, examining the few blocks from which I suspected the smell emanated. Finally, I decided it was time to stop at a small hole in the wall with a faded sign reading "La Tapatia".

Amongst much protest, I stepped out of the car and walked to the door, feeling my body acting under a will not of my own. I inquired the origin of the odor, and the waitress assured me I was in luck. We sat, and as I scanned the menu, one thing jumped at me – Nachos Tapatia. I trustingly ordered this seemingly overloaded dish. The description read like a battlefield of ingredients. I had my qualms about the order, but my stomach commanded, and I obeyed faithfully. The waitress returned, almost too soon, with a plate full of nachos and a
smile.

The beef was perfectly seasoned, with just a touch of lime and some spice I still can't identify. The meat was lightly grilled, cut into squares and placed atop each chip over a layer of cheese (cheddar for beef, mozzarella for chicken), refried beans, and a tortilla chip. The plate was garnished with lettuce, sour cream and guacamole, and all dinners simple MUST be served with a
margarita (truth be told, I learned this later in life as I was only 18 with a glassful of water at the time) I took my first bite, and swooned with delight. The heavenly design of this concoction was far beyond my mortal understandings, and at the time, though too young and inexperienced to comprehend why, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I had fallen in love. This was the Summer of 2001...

Time passed and lives went on…

My restaurant next door grew up - new signs and tables. I moved away from the city, and began exploring other foods, learning and growing from each interaction. But on some days, when the wind blows a certain way, I pause and my mind wanders through time and space, back to that day. Though we still speak from time to time, and I visit whenever I am in town, we can never go back to the way things were. I will never forget that first time - a taste that unleashed previously unknown feelings, giving me pleasure in ways I had never before conceived. The first time I had been stimulated, the first time I truly appreciated art, the first time I gave myself completely to my senses. The first...

Thank you for opening my heart, those after owe you a sincere debt of gratitude.

-The UE

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

haha, nice post FatBoi. What's the point of life? Why do we even exist? To enjoy friends, family, and most importantly, good food.

c glad said...

I'm with anonymous... that's one smart dude :-)

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