Even though I’d moved to Portland, Oregon far from the Mexican border, I still ate Mexican food at a rapid, rabid pace.
Even though I’d moved to Portland, Oregon far from the Mexican border, I still ate Mexican food at a rapid, rabid pace.So when I found a hand-painted sign on the Tokyo street listing “Mexico tacos” and nothing more, I got excited.
I do.) Substitutions can be creative opportunities rather than deficiencies.
When readers invented something delicious, I’d invite them to email and tell me.
Rather than leftover space, this was standard Tokyo efficiency. Chain donburi automats like , and an abundance of udon, ramen, and sushi. When I climbed the narrow staircase to the fourth floor, the restaurant was closed. A small cook station overlooked a clutter of wooden tables.
These places filled my belly with succulent novelties and comforting carbs soaked in fat. Cactus drawings decorated the signs amid Japanese characters.
Named after the iconic lonchero lunch truck and Dick Dale’s 1964 instrumental surf song, the magazine would combine elements of a cookbook, guide book, art book, and zine to celebrate food from northern Mexico, southern California and the American Southwest, what people call Sonora- and California-style Mexican food. Whether people loved tacos and burritos and wanted to cook them themselves, or they’d only heard about them and wanted to know more, this magazine would be for them. The debut issue would contain brief sections outlining what I’d call “The Basics” (ie, five pillars of Sonoran style cooking), ten simple recipes from famous restaurants; a feature called “Taco Origami” where perforated paper lets readers create a fold-up taco and fold-up burrito, to practice the art of folding the real thing; an illustrated map of must-eat Mexican restaurants in the US; a history of the lonchero; a glossary of useful terms (verde, rojo, arroz, polo); a short opinion piece called “What Taco Bell Does Wrong: Everything” (providing the sort of guide I wish I had for Japanese restaurant chains); a photo essay of popular hot sauces (including Cholula, Valentina, Tapatío, El Pato, Búfalo Chipotle Mexican Hot Sauce); and a hand-drawn anatomy of a tortilla press (drawn like a cartoon blue print, except with brown ink on tan paper). Even when we shared few words in common, many strangers became friends over plates of fish and vegetables.
The issue would also contain a short personal essay I wrote called “Confessions of a Burrito Monomaniac.” Hopefully there was a Japanese word for “monomaniac.” If it was feasible financially, it would include a scratch and sniff page for beans and enchilada sauce, which would be pretty damn cool in any language. Sometimes I failed to get the names or email addresses of the kind strangers I met at bars and cafes, but the Facebook friend requests piled up when I did exchange names, and I would remember those other people forever.
“When it’s gone,” I told Rebekah, “I seriously might cry.” I used tube after tube of the toothpastes I bought from Tokyu Hands department store, starting with the Darjeeling tea flavor and working through the matcha, honey, and pumpkin pudding.
And I made significant dents in the bottles of Hakushu whisky and Suntory Old Whisky that I packed in my carry-on luggage. In that narrow ten-seat bar in Shinjuku, we traded laughs and stories, shared raw pig intestine sashimi, and he gave me my first taste of umeboshi shochu.
With the lights off, though, the vacancy felt personal.
Disappointed, I stepped back into the stairwell and leaned my head out the window. Pedestrians clutched cups of coffee in their gloved hands, and a cold winter wind blew through the trees in nearby Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.