Although Texas is known for its steaks and chili, here in the borderland we have the ultimate in border Mexican cuisine. Anything from the simple to the gourmet, the chiles and the tortillas never tasted better than those from the heart of El Paso.
While some El Pasoans will argue the worth of some of the foods I love, it’s like a calling when coming back home. Australians have their vegemite, Scots have their haggis, and El Pasoans have our own Chico’s Tacos made infamous by “Fluffy” (comedian Gabriel Iglesias), and all of us who grew up with late night visits after Friday high school football and crashing quinceaneras. Chico’s Tacos are the tacos that are really flautas drowned in tomato water, drenched in a hot green chile salsa, and covered in an un-meltable shredded cheese. And did I say nearly impossible to eat? While some use the fork-tong method to temporarily hold them above the paper tray and attempt neatness while eating, many of us just grab the thing and damn with the mess. Honestly, aren’t some of the best tasting foods the messiest to eat? (Ever had a Whopper that didn’t drip? What a disappointment!)
My other favorite El Paso landmark restaurant is Kiki’s, made famous by locals and multiple awards and appearances on the Food Network channel. Every Sunday afternoon following church you will find my son Austin and me enjoying a perfect specimen of borderland food there. Known for it’s machacas, which are amazing, this restaurant doesn’t fail on any of it’s menu. When not splurging, I enjoy just a simple green cheese enchilada, my favorite of all foods. Enchiladas are also my test food anytime I try a new restaurant. Hell, if they can’t get the basics in tortillas with chiles, sauces, and cheeses, then you won’t find me returning for a second go.
I love my border Mexican so much that I took it with me on my last trip. Loaded up on frozen tacos and enchiladas, I pulled them out and shared them with friends and family unfortunate enough to live back East, far away from our desert paradise.
And now I face their dilemma, a full-year without my favorites. Dry ice and FedEx anyone?
If you ever have the fortune of visiting El Paso, use the links below to find my favorites:
Kiki’s Restaurant http://www.kikisrestaurant.com/
Chico’s Tacos locations http://www.yellowpages.com/el-paso-tx/chicos-tacos (Bring cash, Chico’s does not accept credit cards)
Yesterday while at the UUCEP Holiday Bazaar, I picked up a copy of an acquaintance’s newest book, Tongue-tied to the Border. The author, Gene Keller, is a wonderful, likeable and fluffy bearded man with an ever present twinkle in his eye. Yes, it’s getting very close to Christmas and, no, I’m sorry to say he is not Santa! Though reading his work made me feel as though my Christmas had come early.
Gene’s book reminds me of how I love the smell of the desert with a summer’s rain freshly upon it, the splash of the dust and the crack of the electric permeating the sky with a monsoon just arrived. This is what Tongue-tied brings to thoughts and senses.
If you have never lived in the desert, this book is a must. And if you have, this book is an ethereal fantasy of childhood memories as well as a social commentary on the shared lives of our sister cities, Juarez and El Paso.
Now I must begin from page one again. I have to relish in the poems, reading them slowly and examining the contextual meanings as I feel, contemplate and digest the words of this borderlander.
“Gene Keller is a full-spectrum poet: a maker of word artifacts, a singer, a storyteller.” (From back book jacket.)
A performance by Gene at our sanctuary in April 2012:
Copies of Tongue-tied to the Border are available for purchase on Amazon.com, or at the Hal Marcus Gallery in El Paso.
Tongue-tied to the Border, by Gene Keller, Copyright 2012 by Gene Keller, Street of Trees Projects (SOTP 1112), 225 Arboles, El Paso TX 79932.