When I called my mother last week to check in on her, she asked me what was new in my life. I told her, my taste buds have been awakened.
I’m not much for eating anything that is too hot or too spicy. About the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten is roasted red peppers mixed with cream cheese. While the cream cheese does give the spread a smoother taste, I’m still usually sweating after I’m done eating the concoction with crackers.
I’m a product of German and Luxembourg ancestry, thus the hottest thing I ever ate growing up on the farm was sauerkraut, pepper bacon or horseradish. We like meat, potatoes and a vegetable – preferably sweet corn or green beans slathered in freshly churned butter. And … we don’t like to mix our food into casseroles or hot dishes, either.
So when my younger brother married into an Italian family – I loved it. His beautiful wife would always make me her family’s special lasagna or sausage and peppers with penne noodles when I came to visit them in Connecticut. Plus, I loved it when she made her grandmother’s Tiramisu. And … I couldn’t ever resist venturing to the neighboring Italian bakery for Angenettes – a small Italian cookie made with fresh squeezed lemons and orange juice.
My travels in the newspaper business, have allowed me to venture outside my usual food circles. Down south, I learned to like cheese grits with shrimp and hush puppies. Up north in Minnesota, there was wild rice, lefse, lutefisk, sarmas and potica. In Wisconsin – it was all about cheese and fish frys on a Friday night. If you like apple pie, in Wisconsin you’ll get it served up with a nice slice of cheddar cheese instead of ice cream. Plus every Wisconsin Supper Club hosted a fish fry on the weekends and served it up with an Old Fashioned cocktail.
Moving always is an experience, especially when it concerns food. There are things that I would normally find in a grocery store back home in Iowa, I can’t find here. And there are items on the grocery shelves, I have no idea how they might be used in a meal. So don’t be surprised if I ask what’s in it, before I dig in.
For starters, I hadn’t eaten a Frito pie until last week. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. My first experience was on Friday, at a fundraiser for the annual toy and coat drive in Socorro County. And… it was a little hot … wasn’t bad. I think I’ll try another one sometime soon as soon as my mouth stops tingling.
My first experience with green chile was a breakfast burrito. John Larson was eating one and I thought it sure smelled terrific. So the next morning, I decided to pick one up for breakfast. My first mistake was that I didn’t read the label. I thought all the burritos were the same. What happened was I picked up the hottest burrito, without knowing what I was about to sink my teeth into.
At first, I didn’t notice anything. It was actually pretty darn good. Then, a few minutes later, my mouth started to burn and I started to sweat. Forgive me Harry Carey – but HOLY COW! I thought something had exploded in my mouth.
I’m not one for food surprises. I like to know what I’m eating before I dive into it.
And … I’m not one to give up on new food. So when I saw the announcement about the Matanza, I thought I’d give the food a try.
Fire Chief Joe Gonzales gave me a small sampling of the red chile before I had it poured over my food. One small taste was all I needed to know it was too hot for me. When I shook my head and said I think I’ll pass, he joked that within a year I’d want it on everything. I’d say give it a good five years.
I will say the food served was absolutely delicious. From the Carnitas, chicarrones … to the carne adobada beans, it was excellent – minus the red chile. I vowed I’m just going to learn to ask for the chile on the side, for starters, for now.
And while my food experiences over the next several months and years will be different than what my mother and grandmother served at our kitchen table – that’s Okay.
Life is meant to be an adventure filled with new experiences and food. I wouldn’t have it any other way.