“RAMBLINGS… IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER”

Jun 10

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Seems like another installment of some Dirt Road Ramblings should be in order. Drinks with friends, a lunch or just having a coffee with folks brings up all things food related in my world and recently it was not any different .
These are the times when my little tape recorder brain brings up some fun memories, an ironic story or just a curious fact that I’d like to share with someone.

“I REMEMBER THAT” or “WHY DON’T YOU SEE THOSE ANYMORE” or ” I CAN”T BELIEVE WE DID THAT” are some of the titles one could attach to these ramblings….so, in no particular order:

** I ordered a coke at a cafe …they gave me a straw. I don’t use straws anymore, but I immediately tore off the end, put it in my mouth and tried to blow the paper cover across the room. No such luck…I temporarily forgot that the straw -paper-wrapping-people-company-supplier etc. sabotaged that wonderful pastime from our youth years ago. No more fun there. CRAP!

**Do you get annoyed when you go to take the twist tie off a package…a loaf of bread, some rice crackers or some such food item ; and all of a sudden it starts to tighten back up at the half way point? Are all the folks who wrap these left handed…or right handed and twist them 2 ways or am I just impatient and not paying attention? Whatever it is, I let myself get annoyed;  but the little plastic tabs aren’t any better. DUMB ASS ME!

**Why do clerks give you the change for your $8.29 coffee and danish tab all in one  hand? Don’t they know that there are six impatient folks behind you that have been waiting (not to mention you waited for four in front of you) ;and out of courtesy you want to get out of the way. Let’s see now. The tip was left on the table. The 2-$5. bills and the $1. bill go into the pocket in the back of your wallet; the .71 in change goes into your front pants pocket, and that damn receipt! Where the hell do you put that? Or maybe they put it all on the slick Formica counter; then you are trying to scoop up coins, bills, paper receipts and not have it fall to the floor. Meanwhile you want to be courteous and not keep the nice folks waiting. DAMN! Guess we should all use that debit card like everyone else instead of the $20. bill I did. Still, it is unsettling. Anyone feel like me out there? Maybe they could have a soft space on the counter. Picking up coins is a chore most all of the time!
**Now here is a story about tradition!
In June 1961 on my 18 TH birthday, my friends and I put on our finest threads, piled into my 1941 Ford sedan and headed for Tijuana from our homes in San Diego. Like any typical young guys of the times, we wanted to look for girls.Try to be like the grown-ups and slide into a fancy night club, have some cocktails and dance the night away.
It didn’t matter that 1 mile north, this was against the law (in the US). The quest for fun was not going to be denied as far as we saw it.
We knew all the right places to go from our older friends, and since drinking age was “if you had money” in Mexico-the only issue was crossing the border – one must be 18. We proceeded to hit the town. I was a bit traditional; loved Latin music and the dancing…so that’s where I dragged my friends, even though I knew they wanted “Rock ‘N Roll”.
After some hours of fun and folly, we all got hungry. Recommendations were to go to “La Especial”-a little glass enclosed taco stand right on the main drag of Avenida Revolucion.
There they gave you freshly made , steamed corn tortillas, twisted into a cone shape in some paper;  filled with a tasty stew of pork or beef. Topped with a fresh green onion and a crunchy red radish, we were all set. Standing on the curb in our boozy state, we would eat 4 or 5 in no time. I think they were .25…maybe less-might be they were .15 each. Who remembers.
On for more bars and drinking. Music was louder and Mexican cover bands doing top R&R songs of the day. Another hour or two passed and we needed some more sobering up. The New Kentucky Cafe, a huge hall-like space;  tall ceilings, bare, flickering light bulbs, and rows and rows of tables filled with assorted folks having early breakfast or late dinners. It was owned by a Chinese family for some 50 years. They spoke Cantonese, Spanish and bad English! A really tiny, old man…cigarette dangling from his lips took our order. His less than white, well worn apron showed lots of use. We always got the same thing. Tacquitos. He would grab them the from the freezer- tightly rolled tortillas, filled with cheese and onions-straight to the hot griddle right in front of  us ; a sprinkle of H20, on with  a lid and the steam would rise. In no time at all, he slid them into those paper squares, a generous dash of salt and off we went. Two for a quarter-I do remember that. We would get about three doors down; paper squares were all we had left. Empty! Whoa! Back to the New Kentucky for two or maybe four more. Those damn little rolled up cheese and onion snacks were just wonderful! I have made them since…never as good as that little man made for us.
By the way, “La Especial” is still there! The stand opened in 1948; a full sized restaurant sprang up some years later, just down the stairs in the Mercado. Thinking back now, I easily could drive to Tijuana  just for some of those tacos at “La Especial”. I don’t know if The New Kentucky Cafe is still there. Maybe that little man’s grandson is steaming some taquitos for some hungry young guys right now!  Tune in another time for another rendition of DIRT ROAD RAMBLINGS, probably still in” no particular order”.

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