When I first moved to Ohio, I was craving Mexican food. I had spent all my life, surrounded by cheesy enchiladas, homemade tortillas, salsa that made you sweat, the good stuff. I had spent a few months exploring the land of Hoggy's BBQ, Bob Evans, Jersey Mikes, so I hadn't really notice the lack of cultural choices, besides Taco Bell. On the recommendation of my boss at Chili's, we went in search of a place called Nacho Mama's. He raved about this cute hole in the wall restaurant, with true authentic Mexican food. And if you know anything about So. Cali, it is that every hole in the wall restaurant can make you go weak in the knees with their scrumptious meals.
We head north of the city, and see this little white building with a weathered blue roof, and I swear I started salivating at the sight of it. This has got to be it, I thought. It looks like a dive, but it would hold the secrets of mid western Mexican.
We walk in, sit down, it's fairly busy. Doesn't quite have the smell of "back-home" food, but it could hang.
They bring out the salsa. I dip my chip and... take a bite, of this watery tomato paste with herbs concoction. Maybe the little Mexican grandma in the back took the day off....there is a little Mexican grandma in the back, right?
I order chicken enchiladas, rice and beans. My staple. The husband gets a burrito. We are talking, enjoying our young life, when our food came. I should have ran out the door, headed for the nearest plane, and flew back to my beloved Cali. I took one look and.....
It was a flour tortilla, with chunks of chicken, with some watery tomato sauce. The beans were pinto, probably from a can, and the rice. OMG, the rice. I double checked to see that we were in Chopstick Charley's Cafe, because to my horror, I had a ball of WHITE rice on my plate. WHITE, as in steamed, as in to sit under beef and broccoli, not sit next to enchiladas. No seasoning, no nothing.
I tried the chicken. It was as dry, and as plain as the cardboard I packed my moving boxes in. I had never tasted chicken so gross in my life. The soggy tortilla and tomato sauce. *gag* I looked around at all these other people gobbling up the Pace Picante meets Heinz platter, like it was GOOD.
I was horrified. Culture shock. I think I ran out and bought a sombrero and guacamole, and danced the salsa. And quickly, very quickly, learned to make my own.
(nacho mama's closed down not long after that. I wonder why.)