Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Enchilada Envy

What does Mexican food have to do with our visit to London?, you may ask, and rightly so.  Were the above enchiladas just edible speed bumps on our way to the Houses of Parliament?  Exactly.  We had a very good meal at the Embassy of Texas Cantina, just off Trafalgar Square.  I mention it because once in a while, one of the questions I get from the locals is, "What do you miss about the U.S. the most?"  (Only one person has asked me if I own a gun.) That's a hard one to prioritize, but the decent Mexican food is right up there.  I'd been craving it since our departure, so until I break down and refry my own beans in desperation, a fix of Tex-Mex here will last me a right long while.  Darn tootin'.

Americans who love Mexican are in the precise category of English who love Indian.  An introduced cuisine caught on among the masses.  Just as there are some really excellent Indian restaurants in England, it's not hard to find good Mexican in America.  In fact, some of the spices are the same.  Corriander leaves that factor into a number of Indian entrees are the same as cilantro, which is a prime ingredient in any salsa worth its salt.

Chumley went through Indian cravings in the States, and often, what we found just didn't measure up.  We were at a restaurant in York that claimed to specialize in Mexican, and my dinner was loaded with "salsa" that was so spicy it was inedible, and frankly tasted like bolonese sauce.  It was just wrong.  I finally understand the complaint desk mentality our English friends assumed when criticizing Indian food in America.  Some was good, some wasn't.  We won't mention that little episode where we read in the newspaper that one particular restaurant couldn't pass repeated health inspections due to, among other alarming infractions, both dead and live cockroaches in the kitchen.  At least the bugs were fresh.

I couldn't leave without washing dinner down with a lovely margarita.  For those unfamiliar with the recipe, it's lime juice, tequila, and sometimes triple sec, which can be supplemented with further fruit flavors any number of ways.  "Make mine a peach," I told our waitress, while Chumley nodded with understanding.  He has finally come to terms with the fact that I never miss an opportunity to make a beverage even fruitier.  Chumley's house margarita wasn't bad either, based on the slurping sounds.

The restaurant's refried beans were passable, just like pond water tastes good to the deathly thirsty,  but the purist in me would have preferred them without the flavor of liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is a most vile American condiment that should only be used by the likes of Homer Simpson.  In case you're wondering, refried beans are either oil or lard (insert fear and fat loathing here), with pinto beans gradually added in and mashed while being cooked.  Add copious salt, and you have your choice of a delightful side dish or some emergency wall repair.  I have a feeling that the pictured beans were made with lard.  When I see them, I feel my vena cava tremble in fear.

Perhaps it is a good thing that my access to lard-based side dishes has been curtailed.  However, I seem to have replaced one drug with another: custard.  My new mantra: it's been three days since my last low-fat Ambrosia Devon custard...

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Oh, no! How would I survive without my Mexican food fix? I'm glad you found some that will make do. I would be interested to hear what else you miss about America...