What is it that always tastes delicious, always seems to hit the spot and is inevitably what you turn to when you need something to boost your spirits? What is your comfort food?
|Annie's comfort food|
Annie has always maintained that hers is pasta. There is magic in the air when the tomato sauce that we put up last summer, is bubbling away on the stovetop. With the fragrance of onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme and black pepper wafting through the air, mouths water with abandon.
For me it’s Mexican cuisine. Take any combination of turkey burger/chicken/pork, refried/black/pinto beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives, rice, avocados, and cilantro, wrap it in corn/flour tortillas, and we have comfort food.
Soft tacos, hard tacos, enchiladas, taquitos, burritos, tostadas, or quesadillas, it’s all the same to me. Even prior to the existence of fast-food Mexican restaurants, my family feasted on these dishes back as early as the mid sixties. The only Mexican restaurant in our area of the San Gabriel Valley was the Green Burrito.
Taco Bell? It opened its first restaurant in 1964, and there were three hundred by 1970, but we were first. My folks Robert and Pauline had begun to make the five-hour drive from La Puente to Ensenada, in Baja California, in 1963, staying the first time at little place called Granada Cove, just north of Ensenada.
Robert worked at State Steel as a welder amidst a workforce comprised of ninety percent Mexican and black workers. At lunchtime he and others would congregate and sample each others’ offerings. As a result Papa started incorporating his findings into our dinner regimen.
Soft tacos were his specialty: hamburger (no turkey burger yet), flour tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and chile powder were the ingredients. He and Mama would team together and put together about thirty or forty of those babies, lay them out on cookie sheets, pop them in the oven for a nominal length of time to melt the cheese, and then stand back as me and my eight siblings descended upon the kitchen.
We always filled our plates before grace, to give everyone an equal shot at what was available. Mama would put together a green salad that included fresh tomatoes and guacamole, made from fresh avocados grown on our own tree.
I like jalapeño peppers and I like spicy food. My beverage of choice-always-is water, so I am good to go. We grow our own peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro, here on-farm, so we are most of the way there. I can prepare simple tacos or burritos in less than fifteen minutes and I do so frequently.
Recently Annie started making corn tortillas by hand. Que bueno!
Mexican food is inexpensive, for the most part healthy and tasty as all get-out. It leaves me satisfied and hopefully there is enough for leftovers. So when I want taste, zest and substance, I reach South-of-the-Border.
Could you pass the salsa, please?