I was overjoyed to have my Uncle and Cousin in town from Charlottesville for the weekend. My cousin is a 13-year-old male, so the first night into town we had to go visit the Halloween store that opened up in Candler's Mountain Station (I could mention my age and sex, but I really wanted to go because I love everything about Halloween, especially dressing up as other people and wearing excessive amounts of makeup).
We decided to go to The Dollar Theater to see "Devil" which my cousin had mentioned wanting to see on the way down (no one ever goes to see horror with me). We had time to kill so we went to Pueblo Vejo to get a margarita and a Coke and Crown Royal (my Uncle is a huge Crown Royal fan).
He exclaimed the drink was JUST like he would have fixed it. He also informed me that this was only his second time going to a Mexican restaurant in his life because he never knew what to order.
My jaw dropped. I just could not IMAGINE only having been to a Mexican restaurant ONCE in your LIFE!
After assuring him we would go visit multiple Mexican locations I started to ponder whether or not this occurrence was typical of a certain age or demographic. Could it be? In other towns, there are other people, who have rarely--perhaps NEVER--been to a Mexican restaurant?
Now, I'll fight you about the best Mexican restaurant in Lynchburg. I've had a love affair with Mi Patron for years. The people are nice and friendly (not WAY TOO FRIENDLY like other local establishments that will go unnamed...ahem...), the atmosphere is clean, and most importantly, of course, the food is quite good. What I like about Mi Patron is that their salsa is not watered down and boring--it's full of cilantro (I'm a big fan) and onion, not to mention garlic and of course tomato. The sauces in the various dishes don't remind one of tomato soup (another problem with some Mexican restaurants that will continue to go unnamed). They have a bold appeal that does not override the flavor of the food.
There's also that birthday I'll never forget...
After my astonishment at my Uncle Darrell's lack of South-of-the-Border cuisine I started to think about my own experiences. In other words, I wondered if I was missing out on something by not going a little further.
Don't I almost ALWAY get the Vegetarian B or the Lunch Combo 9? Am I really, truly branching out myself? Can you SAY you've been to McDonalds if you haven't tried the Big Mac, Chicken Nuggets, and have never ventured out onto the McPlayground with the McGerm infested children?
Are you truly a Mexican Restaurant fan if you have never ordered anything besides combos? Seriously folks. This is a serious question.
My Uncle loves steaks. LOVES it. Do I have the audacity to take him to a Mexican restaurant if I've never even ordered a steak strip dish, let alone a whole steak, from the menu? Have YOU seen the Huevos Ranchos on every, single Mexican restaurant you've been too and, like myself, passed over it wondering,"Who ever orders THAT?"
Do you know who orders that, people? Mexicans. True blooded Mexicans. And people who are not in a little, shameful combo box like myself. That's who. THAT'S who...
Do we really know what a tamal is? Isn't it missing an -e at the end?!
Did we KNOW that there is more to dessert than Fried Ice Cream? Has anyone ventured out into flan territory? These are the important questions...
Is it REALLY politically correct to have an "I've BEAN to La Carretta" bumper sticker on your car?!? Am I going to get fired for talking about any of this?!
All that to say this: the next time you catch me at a Mexican restaurant I will be ordering from the part that does not involve numbered selections.
If you don't feel you're quite prepared to visit your own local restuarant yet, feel free to enter the Old El Paso Giveaway at Mommy Goggle's site. It should be just the thing to get you started.
And if you're having a birthday at Mi Patron any time soon...don't say you weren't warned.