Playita Mexicana: Dad’s Birthday Dinner

“Bienvenidos!” painted over an arched doorway and murals of presumably Mexican beaches adorned the walls, an effort to transport us from Memphis to Mexico in the blink of an eye, by walking through a single door into Playita Mexicana, my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. We were there for celebratory purposes, my wife, my dad, and myself, enjoying a meal together for my dad’s birthday. For those of you who have never eaten at Playita Mexicana before, you need to quit reading this stupid blog and go over there right now, trust me. So what if you don’t live in Memphis? It will be well worth how ever far you have to drive to eat this food. It doesn’t matter how many times I eat here, I never walk in knowing what I’m going to get because there’s just so many good things to choose from, and last night was no exception, having to send the waiter away more than once while we tried to decide what to order, while munching on chips and cheese dip, the one constant on every visit.
My dad and I both ordered chimichangas, ground beef for him and grilled chicken for me, and my wife got a steak quesadilla. As always the food came out pretty quickly, well my dad and wife’s did, while mine came out a few minutes later because apparently they had to catch, kill, and pluck the chicken before throwing it onto the grill. My chimichanga arrived, and the first thing that came to mind was a bean bag chair because of how enormous it was, not only in length and width, but in height, it was just monstrous, and without a  doubt the biggest chimichanga I’d ever seen. A mistake I always, ALWAYS make at Mexican restaurants is eating too much of the chips and salsa/cheese dip before the actual entrée arrives, so by the time it does, I’m not that hungry anymore. It’s not like this sneaks up on me out of nowhere, I know it’s going to happen as I dip chip after chip into the queso and strategically move it towards my mouth so as not to let little white drips of melted cheese fall onto my shirt, but yet I continue to do it anyway. It’s good, yes, but moreover than that it’s just there, in front of me looking completely irresistible, so all thoughts of ruining my appetite are pushed to the side, telling myself that maybe just the once I can eat unlimited chips and cheese dip without it having any impact on my appetite whatsoever, like maybe there exists a day in the universe where the laws of hunger don’t apply, like a supernatural cheat day, and I just so happened to walk into a Mexican restaurant on that very day, the lucky man that I am. I tell you this, expose my utter lack of self control because it happened again, and by the time the biggest chimichanga I’d ever seen was placed on the table before me, I wasn’t exactly full, but I wasn’t really hungry anymore either.
The plate before me was completely filled, the massive chimichanga taking up about half of the large plate, with rice and beans on the other half. In the middle of the plate sat a small bed of lettuce with diced tomatoes, and sour cream, things that would normally be put on the chimichanga or eaten alongside it, but the thought of adding more ingredients to it, daunting as it already was, was completely unthinkable and unappealing given the fact that I wasn’t even hungry anymore. Despite the fact that I was having major doubts about whether I would be able to eat the meal before me, it did look absolutely delicious, topped with a red sauce, melted cheese, and queso. I took a bite, and it tasted even better than it looked, the chicken so juicy and flavorful and the melted cheese and the sauce marrying together perfectly to make it the perfect bite. It was the first time that I’d ever tried the grilled chicken before here, and after having had it yesterday, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for me to get any other kind of meat going forward because it was just that good. The beans which I’ve previously praised before weren’t as good last night. Melting cheese on top of something is a reliable way to improve just about anything, which is normally the case with the refried beans here, but they tasted overcooked and had a bit of a strange aftertaste last night that no amount of cheese could cover up.
I ladled some of the queso onto the rice, taking the cue from my dad who had gotten the idea from my cousin Bailey who has been eating her rice like that for many years, but I really didn’t eat that much of the rice because of how full I was and wanted to fit as much of that glorious chimichanga into my stomach before I could eat no more and didn’t really want to take up any of that crucial real estate with rice. I finished a little more than half  before I just couldn’t eat anymore, except for the chips and cheese dip that I continued munching on until it was finally time to leave for no other reason than that they were still there in front of me and no matter how full I am, it always seems like I can eat one more chip, because who can’t eat one chip, and that mentality repeats itself over and over again until absolute misery takes over. The meal was really good, and now that I’ve had about sixteen hours to digest it, the other half of that chimichanga is starting to sound pretty good right about now, and although the meal was great, the real highlight was just getting to see my dad on his birthday for the second year in a row, something I don’t remember happening any year before then, so hopefully this new tradition will stick and be observed for many years to come.


Worst Restaurant in the World

When I went to France for the first time thirteen years ago, it was my first trip out of the country and I was excited both to see all of the magnificent sights that Paris had to offer, but also to experience and try all of the unique food that is renowned as some of the best in the world. Going in, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Sure my dad had given gone over some of the basics of French cuisine with me, getting me well acquainted with crepes in the years leading up to the trip, and talking about escargot anytime I needed a good laugh, but past that, I wasn’t really too knowledgeable about the food aside from the fact that it is considered to be really, really good. The food in Paris lived up to it’s reputation, leaving me to walk away from every meal full and completely satisfied. It’s almost like Paris is a dream world, because you eat and eat, sometimes spending a couple hours eating multiple courses for dinner, and by the time you leave the restaurant you are completely full, unable to eat another bite, but somehow you are able to summon the energy to walk back home like you hadn’t just eaten a four course meal that was so good you didn’t have the willpower to leave any food on the plate uneaten. So yes, for the first few days in France, everything was perfect and despite having never eaten any of that stuff before, I was really taking a liking to the food, but then one fateful night, we veered right, completely swerving off the path of traditional French cuisine, and ended up in the murky swamp of Parisian Thai food.

Sometimes when you are dating someone, that person can posses a certain amount of control on your mind, using that power to get what they want, say for instance, Thai food in Paris, which is exactly how my dad and I ended up in a Thai restaurant with my dad’s friend Brian, and his girlfriend, Laurence (pronounced Looo-honce). I think to the extent which Brian is to blame is only that he was dating somebody who liked this particular restaurant, because even though he acted like it was partly his idea and that he wanted to eat there, I think he was clearly urged in that direction by Laurence via the aforementioned mind control. We walked into the restaurant which was brightly lit, bathing everything in an obnoxious hue of yellow. This is one of the few things I remember about the décor which should tell you how bad it is that I still remember that bright light vividly more than a decade later. Where going toward the light is normally a reference to heaven, this was more like walking straight into the depths of hell but instead of being tortured for all eternity, it only felt like that long.

We didn’t have to sit on pillows around a low table, but honestly that probably would have been a lot more comfortable. The table we were led to was a small one that was fairly low to the ground with two benches on either side of it, which doesn’t sound all that bed, but that’s only because I’m not finished describing it yet. The benches, that were like rectangular ottomans were bolted to the floor, completely unmovable, which wouldn’t have been so problematic had there been more space between the bench and the table. As it were, the only thing that could have slid comfortably into that microscopic space was a single sheet of printer paper, which didn’t bode well for us humans. I put my left leg over the bench and wiggled it until it found breathing room below the surface of the table, then brought my right knee up, contorting my body like I was a member in Cirque de Soleil rather than an American teenager in a French restaurant, and somehow managed to slide that into place under the table without pulling something out of socket or tearing any major ligaments, which might be the most impressive thing I’ve ever accomplished.

The menu came and it was fairly big which is usually a good thing since there is a lot to choose from and you’re more likely to find something that looks good, but this menu was in a language that was foreign to me. I don’t know if it was in French or Thai, but it definitely wasn’t in English, not that it should have been, but the point is that I couldn’t read the menu at all and my dad seemed to be nearly as clueless as me. I probably could have asked Brian or Laurence for help translating, and that is absolutely what I should have done, but playing the part of the adventurous traveler, I just decided to point at something on the menu, and hope that it was edible. I think to that point in my life I had never eaten Thai food before so I didn’t have any prior knowledge as to what I would like anyway, so asking for a translation might not have affected the outcome at all, unless there was something on the menu called chicken tenders with honey mustard. The waiter arrived with the food, and sat completely at attention, completely still, partly because I was nervously waiting to see what I had ordered, and partly because I was so tightly wedged between the bench in the table that any movement at all was completely impossible.

The plate was set on the table before me; four green bundles stared up at me, leafs wrapped around something that hopefully looked more appetizing than the first impression that I was getting. I unwrapped the leafs like little gifts, optimistically thinking that good things come in small packages. After the small piece of twine was removed and part of the leaf flopped open to the left, as if it couldn’t wait to get away from whatever was inside of it. The air rose out from within the leaf, like the last stale breath before death finally sets in, hitting me square in the face, letting me know that I made a very bad decision. For the life of me I can’t remember what was wrapped in those leaves, but I know that I didn’t eat very much of it, picking at it with my fork and taking small and invisible bites until everyone else finished eating and we were able to leave my least favorite restaurant in the world behind. As we walked back to Brian’s apartment, the Eiffel Tower lit up the night sky, flashing it’s hourly greeting, reminding me that I was in one of the greatest cities in the world, and nothing, not even a terrible meal at a Thai restaurant could change that.

Breakfast with my Wife: Mediocrity at McDonald’s

IMG_4315The best way to start the day is with breakfast, and when I was younger, McDonald’s was the place to get it, which I think had more to do with the sentimentality of that being the place my dad and I would always go when he would come visit rather than the quality of the food, which we can all agree is complete crap, amazing, delicious crap. I remember one time when I had spent the night over at my great grandmother’s house, and in the morning she asked me what I wanted for breakfast, going over all of the many options that she had to make, biscuits, eggs, sausage, fried potatoes, toast, or cereal, all perfectly good options, most of which I would prefer now over going out for breakfast, but my young mind was centered and solely focused on McDonald’s, so that is where we went. I got the sausage biscuit with a hash brown, the only thing I ever got back then. Once I had branched out and tried the breakfast burrito before going to a water park for the day, and that didn’t turn out good for anyone, so the sausage biscuit and hash brown was it from then on. Breakfast was great, the guilt trip I got later in the day from my granddad was not. He told me when offered something, you either take it or you don’t, but you shouldn’t suggest something else that you want more, because that’s rude, a valuable lesson learned at a young age. What made it worse was the fact that my great grandmother had everything at home to make what I got to eat at McDonald’s which I didn’t realize because I was so focused on what I wanted and wasn’t really paying attention to the less desirable homemade options.

Close to twenty years have passed since I snubbed my great grandmother’s home cooking for McDonald’s, and while my love for their breakfast has certainly wavered and fallen off quite a bit, it hasn’t completely disappeared. This past weekend, my wife and I were both up pretty early, before she had to go to work, and lying in bed, as if she had read my mind, suggested we go get breakfast. This may seem like a normal thing for couples to do on the weekend, but it’s actually a very rare occasion for us, not only because she has to work basically every weekend morning, but because my wife actually kind of hates breakfast. It’s crazy, because breakfast is by far the greatest meal of the day, but my wife and I are basically polar opposites when it comes to our feelings on the matter, but for some reason, she suggested it, and of course I was one hundred percent on board. There are several places here in town that I love to go for a good breakfast consisting of either biscuits and gravy, or sausage and eggs with hash browns, but since we were in a little bit of a time crunch and my wife had to leave for work before too long, we wouldn’t have had time to eat at any of those places, so we did the next best thing, and went to McDonald’s.

It was an overcast and dreary morning, and a slight drizzle was descending down on the city, which didn’t seem to deter anyone from getting their breakfast as the parking lot was so full we had to circle fully around the building and found a parking spot on our second loop. Although it was crowded, this McDonald’s was the picture of efficiency, with multiple register opened, taking orders and getting through the line quickly, and then stepping to the side of the counter for maybe two minutes at the most until your food was ready and your number was called. My wife and I both got the hotcakes and sausage with a hash brown, which I added to my order first and my wife decided to piggy back on my gluttony, and coffees for the both of us, vanilla iced for her and a hot pumpkin spice latte for myself, which would probably be embarrassing to admit ordering if it weren’t so freaking good. We found a booth near the window and watched the rain fall from the dark sky on a mild October morning. I “buttered” the pancakes, which I put in quotation marks and say with skepticism because I don’t know what I was spreading on the pancakes but there’s no way it was butter. It would have been nice to equally portion out the syrup between the three flap jacks, but not wanting to risk getting sticky syrup on my hands and ruining the rest of my day, I just dumped it all out on the top pancake, figuring I would just use the excess syrup that ran off and pooled near the sides of the plate as a dipping sauce for the others.

The hot cakes were not so hot, and in fact weren’t even warm, but were actually kind of cold, which did nothing to enhance the flavors that weren’t all that great to begin with. The sausage I actually enjoyed, and the best bites of pancake were the ones that were skewered on the same fork as a bite of sausage and dipped in the syrup. The hash brown was heavenly and just the way I remembered, and the pumpkin spice latte was really good as well, although I must say that it isn’t anywhere near as good as the one from Starbucks that started this whole trend, plus, I got a medium and the cup was only filled up about three quarters of the way which seemed like a bit of a rip off, but the warm taste of fall worked wonders in not allowing me to be bothered by that fact. Overall the breakfast was good but not great, and would have been so much better if the hotcakes had actually been hot, but I realize it’s probably a lot to expect of a McDonald’s product to live up to its name. I probably should have gotten a sausage biscuit and hash brown, because to this day, that meal has never let me down.


An Embarrassing Lunch at Huey’s

Never in my life have I ever had my debit card declined at a restaurant, but there’s a first time for everything unfortunately, and Saturday it happened to me. I was out to lunch with my dad and his mom. We had been at the hospital that morning, visiting with my uncle Brett who had been in there since Monday due to an ulcer that had been building up unbeknownst to anyone and finally had to be operated on in emergency surgery. It was good to see him, and although he was still in a little bit of pain, he was doing and feeling a lot better, and only had a couple more days left in the hospital to make sure he didn’t get an infection. We were there for an hour or two, and by the time we left it was nearly one, so naturally we started talking about getting something for lunch. The only thing I could think of in the area was Huey’s, so that’s where we decided to go.
It was crowded when we arrived, a fact that always brings me comfort in Huey’s, and is the only restaurant I can think of that has that affect on me. Normally crowded restaurants mean a long wait, either for a table, your food, or both, but here it just seems right that it be crowded. Despite the fact that the restaurant seemed packed to the brim when we walked in, we were immediately ushered to a booth, somewhere amongst the many voices of the cheerful lunch goers surrounding us.  I looked briefly over the menu, which always seems to be a waste of time since every single time I eat at Huey’s, I get a burger, but I like to browse nonetheless, and float some ideas through my mind, putting them in a head-to-head matchup with the burger to see if anything can beat it out. This time I thought about nachos, or just getting a basket of the new tater tots with bacon and cheese, which sounded delicious, but the more I thought about it, the less it sounded like a fulfilling meal and more like an appetizer. The nachos sounded good, the perfect football food, which was fitting since TV’s lining the walls were showing all the college games that were currently going on, but I saw somebody else’s plate of nachos, and decided against it. There is a huge difference in nachos that have shredded cheese and those that have cheese sauce, and as a person who prefers the latter, I decided against the grated cheese version offered up by Huey’s, and went with the always reliable burger.
There is a vast selection of burgers to choose from depending on your preferences and mood, and after glancing at the numerous options, I decided on the Bluff City Burger, which is one of my favorite burgers in the city for which it is named. A thick patty topped with bacon, barbecue sauce, fried onion straws, lettuce, and pickles, the Bluff City burger is a in a word, fantastic. My biggest hang up on Huey’s in the past has been the side dishes, because I don’t like their steak fries which in my opinion are too big and devoid of flavor, and I don’t like their onion rings, which are literally the biggest onion rings I’ve ever seen, and the fried batter on the onion doesn’t stay attached very well so inevitably you end up munching on a big chunk of hot onion, but now Huey’s has stepped their game up with the new addition of tater tots. I got them as a side, and this was the first time I’ve ever eaten at Huey’s and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the meal, so it’s definitely going to have a place on my short list of favorite restaurants to go-to because everything from the burger to the tots was perfect. PERFECT. The only bad part about the meal had nothing to do with the food or the restaurant itself, but with me, or rather my debit card, which was declined when attempting to pay for my food.
I had enough money in my account, so I couldn’t understand what could have possibly gone wrong. The waitress had the good grace not to announce to the table that my card was declined, and instead told me that the machine couldn’t read my card, but we all knew what was going on. Thankfully my dad stepped in and handed back his card, saying that he would pay and we could settle up later, or else I wouldn’t have had any idea how I would come up with the money because the only card I had on me was the one that wasn’t going through and I had absolutely no cash on me. I pulled up my banking app at the table, just to make sure that money hadn’t been taken out of my account without my knowledge, and, as expected, my account still had the balance that it should have. The problem ended up being that my card was locked, something my wife did as a precaution last weekend after our other account was used fraudulently to make unauthorized purchases, and my wife just forgot to unlock it again. I was embarrassed that for the first time my card was declined at a restaurant, and that it happened in front of my dad and Mimi, but at least there was a logical and reasonable explanation for why it happened so I guess that was kind of  a relief. Despite that one misstep, everything about the meal was great, and I would one hundred percent recommend you checking out Huey’s ASAP to get a fantastic burger and to try their new tater tots, just make sure before you go that your debit card hasn’t been locked by your wife or you might end up having to wash dishes at the restaurant, or possibly getting your dad to bail you out.

A Costly Mistake to Make When Flying

Hot black coffee on a cool, overcast morning takes me back to Paris, walking around the cobbled streets of the city enjoying everything around me, which is strange because the only time I ever remember having coffee on either of my trips there, I wasn’t  walking around the city at all, but was rather thousands of feet in the air somewhere between Amsterdam and Paris. I was on an airplane with my dad, fourteen years old, and outside of the United States of America for the first time in my life. I had survived my first flight ever, from Memphis, to Amsterdam, so was a seasoned and confident air traveler by the time this second flight rolled around, so I was more carefree, relaxed, and laid back, my stomach no longer clenched tight, and open to the possibility of filling it with whatever food and drinks the airline had to offer, which just so happened to include coffee.
This was the only coffee I remember having on the trip, and come to think of it, it wasn’t even black coffee. This was before I became a coffee purist, freeing my morning beverage of gallons of cream and piles of sugar, so it is strange to me why drinking black coffee on an overcast and cool morning makes me think of something that has no apparent connection whatsoever. It’s really fascinating to me, like I would love to have the kind of free time to just spend hours every day sitting around and thinking about why certain things conjure up memories of other things that seemingly aren’t related, but I’ve got a life to live and a blog to write, so I guess I’ll just go ahead and get back to it. While coffee on the plane was great, what I was really looking forward to was the food. I know, in hindsight it seems weird to me that I ever looked forward to airplane food, but having only been on one flight before, where one of the meals on the plane was breakfast, my favorite, so I hadn’t been jaded yet to the realities of airplane food.
The stewardess came around after the drink service was finished, offering one thing and one thing only, cheese sandwiches, which sounded absolutely perfect to me. Just bread and cheese, the title said it all, no unsavory condiments or slimy lunch meats; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. My dad tried to warn me, tried to tell me the truth and bring my expectations back down to a reasonable level, and whether it was the high altitude or the excitement of trying new things in a new place I do not know, but I didn’t listen to him or heed his warning. I stuck out my hand for a cheese sandwich, making the single greatest mistake, even to this day, of my entire life of air travel. I opened the wrapping and between two large pieces of crusty bread, was cheese, yes, but it certainly was not the star of the sandwich. No, that role was saved for the half jar of mayonnaise that had apparently been dumped on the bottom half of the sandwich bread, the excess of which flowed freely out the sides of the sandwich, making sure the person who had made the terrible decision to accept this “meal”, would have a sticky and smelly reminder on their hands for the remainder of the flight. I knew within seconds that I had made a mistake, and the look on my face must have given me away, because my dad, a fellow hater of mayonnaise, sympathized with me and told me that I didn’t have to eat the sandwich. He had tried to warn me about the over abundance of the most disgusting concoction on the planet, but I hadn’t listened, thinking his hatred for the stuff was clouding his judgment, causing him to exaggerate, thinking foolishly that I would be able to scrape it off onto a napkin and it would go undetectable on my taste buds. Even though he told me that it was okay, that I didn’t have to eat it, I felt guilty about it, so I nibbled at the edges of the bread, hating every bite, for as long as I could, before giving up, rewrapping the sandwich, and shoving it as far down into the seatback pocket in front of me as it would go, like if I pushed it hard enough it would return back to hell from whence it came. For all I know that sandwich is still there, thirteen years later, stinking up a plane that makes the forty minute flight between Amsterdam and Paris, making terrible memories for some other poor soul.

Papa Murphy’s: A Food Review

IMG_4289I first heard about Papa Murphy’s when I was in college at St. Cloud State in Minnesota back in 2010, but because my friends from that area didn’t speak too highly of it, and since I was a fairly broke college student that couldn’t really afford to order pizza, I never tried it, that is until yesterday, more than seven years later. The truth is, after leaving Minnesota I completely forgot about the existence of Papa Murphy’s, simply due to the fact that whilst living in Arkansas and Florida, I never saw one, but then last year we moved to Memphis, and shortly thereafter, a Papa Murphy’s opened not far from where we live, a location my wife and I drive past on a fairly regular basis. Fast forward a year and three months to the day since we moved to Memphis, and I finally tried Papa Murphy’s. I would have tried it sooner, but the whole idea of having to bake it yourself turned me off from it, because something just seems wrong about picking up pizza and not smelling the delicious aroma of melted cheese and pepperoni filling your car, but somebody had recommended Papa Murphy’s to my dad, who had in turn passed along that info to me, and since I was going over to his house for the game, it seemed kismet that we do so while trying this pizza for the first time.

I visited the Papa Murphy’s website, which if you’ve never ordered food from somewhere, it’s really the smart thing to do, because otherwise you are on the phone like an idiot asking for the poor employee to go through their entire menu because you were unprepared. I looked at the deals, and found one for two dollars off any large pizza, then went about deciding which pizza to order. I’m not a big fan of vegetables on pizza, and my dad is feels even more strongly about it than I do, so it wasn’t hard to narrow the options down to a couple of choices which I then texted to my dad to let him decide. We could either get pepperoni or the Papa Murphy’s version of meatlovers that had pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage and beef. Either choice was fine with me, but as time started passing and no reply came from my dad, I decided to make the decision myself, and placed an online order for a large pepperoni pizza, and not even five seconds after the order was placed, a text message came binged on my phone, my dad requesting the all meat pizza. Perfect timing. I called Papa Murphy’s to change the order, which could be done over the phone, but the two dollar off coupon could not be applied since it was an online only coupon, and here I was, talking on the phone. I explained that the order was originally placed online but I couldn’t change the order online which was why it was necessary for me to call, but apparently there was no wiggle room in the online coupon policy, so I told him to cancel the order completely, and I would just do another one online.

Less than five minutes had past since the last pizza was ordered, but for some reason, the pickup time was fifteen minutes later, which didn’t make any sense to me why it would take forty minutes to put together a pizza. Keep in mind, they don’t bake it, so literally all they have to do is put it together and that’s it, should take ten minutes tops, and that’s if all of the employees are the slowest moving creatures on the planet. Anyway, I wasn’t about to wait that long to pick up my pizza, because I didn’t want to risk being late for the start of the Cowboys game, which in my mind is the worst thing you can possibly do, so I showed up at Papa Murphy’s at the original pickup time, figuring my pizza would be ready or they would have me wait while they quickly made it. Mine was literally the only car in the parking lot, and a lone employee walked from the back of the store when they heard the beeping sound of the door being opened. I gave him my name, and he gave me my pizza which was already there waiting on me. My dad preheated the oven to 425 degrees then put in the pizza to bake for a little over fifteen minutes while we watched the start of the football game, and before long, the house was filled with that beautiful aroma of cooking pizza that I love so much.

Coming out of the oven it looked delicious and they definitely didn’t skimp on the toppings. I settled back into my chair while the Cowboys played on in front of me, and I took my first ever bite of Papa Murphy’s. It was really good, the star toppings being the pepperoni and ground beef, which were both full of flavor and absolutely delicious. The sauce was good without being overpowering, and the cheese was great, a blend of a couple different cheeses. Within the first few bites I had decided that this was going to be my new go-to pizza place, because it was just so clearly better than any of the other pizza chains, and is comparable in terms of pricing when you use the online coupon. Is it the best pizza I’ve ever had? No, but to this point, it is the best pizza I’ve had in Memphis since moving here, so it will sit atop my list of the best pizza in Memphis until I taste something better. If you’re looking for really good pizza at a good price, then I would highly suggest you checking out Papa Murphy’s.

The Near Collapse of Taco Tuesday

Taco Tuesday was almost ruined before it even got started. I should probably explain. This week at work is our company’s associate  appreciation week, and every day has a different theme, like yesterday was school spirit day, so I wore a pullover from the college I got kicked out of, returned to, then dropped out of at the end of the year. Good times. Last week it was decided that today would be Taco Tuesday, and it would be a pot luck style lunch where everyone would sign up to bring something that when combined with everyone else’s items, would equate nothing short of a fiesta. The taco hamburger meat for the tacos was already accounted for, thanks to Brad and the fact that his parents have a farm in Mississippi where they slaughter their own cows, which if that doesn’t make your mouth water, I question whether or not you are even human, because to me, nothing conjures up a more delicious image in my mind, than cows being slaughtered, their blood soaking the ground while anguished moos, their last words filling the rural skies.
Since the meat was accounted for, as were toppings for the tacos, cheese, sour cream, taco sauce, and lettuce, I decided to go the extra mile and bring something homemade, something of better quality that can be found in any store or restaurant, at least in my humble opinion, my wife’s guacamole. Okay, I realize that signing up to bring my wife’s guacamole meant that I was actually signing up for my wife to make it, without first checking with her, and in my defense, I didn’t foresee it as being a problem, but as faithful readers of the blog know, I’m often wrong. I wrote down guacamole and salsa on the line next to my name, confident that my wife’s guacamole would be the shining star amongst the rest of the food gathered, and I maintained that fantasy, until I woke up this morning. To my wife’s credit, she took the news that I wanted her to prepare a dip for me and my coworkers in stride, agreeing to do so without the slightest hesitation, which was a relief. Not that guacamole takes a ton of time to make, but when you work five days a week, go to school the other two, and spend most nights studying, having an extra thing to do, however small, could be found irritating to most, so I’m very thankful that she agreed to it, and lucky to have her for my wife.
Fast forward a few days to Sunday, the day we normally do our grocery shopping. I reminded my wife again that we needed to get the salsa and the ingredients to make the guacamole, but she thought it would be better to wait until Monday, that way the produce would taste more fresh on Tuesday when I took the guacamole into work, and seeing as how she was the mastermind behind the creation, I didn’t object, trusting her expert opinion, which is how we found ourselves in Kroger on a Monday evening. I don’t know that I’ve ever come right out and said it before, but I don’t like Kroger, mostly due to the fact that no two stores are the same, which makes it a lot harder than it needs to be to find what you are looking for, an obvious inconvenience that I’m surprised nobody with decision making power has picked up on yet. We got the limes and tomatoes, but the avocados were rock hard, nowhere close to being ripe, so it was either buy some premade guacamole which would be exponentially worse than my wife’s, or go to another store, an option I also wasn’t too keen on since Monday Night Football was set to kickoff in just a few minutes, but being the lesser of two evils, we decided to stop by Walmart on the way home.
Walmart wasn’t too crowded, so we were in and out of the store pretty quickly, however it stung quite a bit more than I’d anticipated. The only two choices of avocados at Walmart were either big and nowhere close to being ready to eat, or really small ones that were ripe. Given that the guacamole needed to be prepared for the following day and we didn’t have the week to let the big ones ripen in a brown paper bag on top of the refrigerator, we were forced to go with the small ones, which meant we had to purchase more than the recipe called for, because they were literally the tiniest avocados I’ve ever seen, and I worked in the produce section of a grocery store for two and a half years. The avocados alone ended up costing more than ten dollars, a quick blow to the pit of my stomach as I came to the realization that I could buy several tubs of premade guacamole for the same price. That night at home, by the time I was ready for bed, a few minutes after eleven, the avocados, tomatoes, and limes were still sitting on the kitchen counter, untouched. I didn’t want to annoy my wife with endless questions about when she was going to be making the guacamole, especially since she was studying, so I kissed her goodnight and went to bed.
I woke up this morning, and immediately knew that something wasn’t right. Maybe it was something in the air, or the louder and more urgent scratching coming from inside of my bedroom wall (stupid rats!), but instinctively I knew that something was wrong, and when I walked into the kitchen, through eyes full of shock and horror, I realized what it was; the guacamole was not made. In retrospect I probably should have reminded my wife, or just bought the prepackaged stuff at the store, anything but this. Faces of coworkers flashed before my eyes, cries of “how could you” and “worthless” hurled in my direction, letting everyone down. I was ready to call in sick, or quit my job, anything but face the firing squad. Taco Tuesday, along with my life was ruined, but then something happened, my wife woke up and walked into the kitchen, summoned perhaps by forces of the universe or maybe she’d just followed the sound of my uncontrollable sobs, but she appeared, and then proceeded to do what she always does, and started to make the situation better. While I showered, shaved, and got ready for work, my wife went to work smashing the avocados, dicing and adding the tomatoes, and squeezing lime juice into a large Tupperware bowl, miraculously and thankfully getting it ready just in time to hand to me as I was walking out the door. Disaster averted.
Lunchtime arrived and the bank was filled with the smell of cooking taco meat, a more glorious smell I do not know. All of the food, some prepared with love and care from the heart, some purchased with laziness from the nearest supermarket, all looking delicious and smelling great. Despite being called Taco Tuesday, everyone seemed to choose making a plate of nachos over tacos, but taco meat was consumed by all, so it wasn’t a complete slap in the face to the originally titled day. The food was all really good, a nice break from the monotonous drudgery of my daily sandwich, a happy reminder that not all lunches have to be mediocre affair. The guacamole went over well with multiple people asking me to tell my wife that they really liked it, so I guess it’s a good thing that I put her on the spot and that she came through, because at least for those of us eating the food, it added an extra layer of flavor to the nachos. Taco Tuesday could have been a disaster, but instead, it turned out to be an above average Tuesday thanks to the added bonus of having Mexican food for lunch. We should really do this more often. IMG_4253