When I was twelve or so we took a trip to Great Britain, wherein we ate at some of Britain’s finest restaurants. And everywhere we went that offered it, I ordered a hamburger. I probably get it from my father, who knows the Landlover Special at just about every seafood joint in Mayne.

I really wish I could go back to Britain and do it right, restaurant-wise. I wish that I’d understood that you don’t tailor a restaurants menu to what you want, you try to find the best thing that the menu has to offer at the place that you’re eating. You can get a better hamburger at the average hamburger joint than you can the most upscale restaurant in town that prefers to serve duck… and there aren’t many places you can get good duck.

During my conversation the other day with Pat, I mentioned that El Taco Patio, a very prevalent Mexican food chain in the area, apparently does not exist in 47 of the 50 states. In talking about the chain Pat commented that Californians were in her experience more into burritos so a place called El Taco Patio (that makes a pretty mediocre burrito) may not do as well there. A lot of the state’s California immigrants that go there order burritos and come out disappointed that a place with “taco” n the name serves substandard burritos.

It reminded me a bit of my former roommate Hubert. There was a little Mexican restaurant that we absolutely loved because of their Macho Burrito. The thing was absolutely huge and only $4. Just about everything else on the menu was smaller and more expensive. Hubert, who was a bit of a tagalong because he (correctly) thought that my group hadn’t really accepted him as one of us, insisted on coming with us to the burrito dive… and order something else. We tried to explain to him that burritos were the only reason to go to this place, but he said he didn’t like burritos and after a few times started insisting that we go somewhere else and insinuated that we lacked his taste in food. When he realized that we were happier going to the burrito dive without him than we were somewhere else with him, he started coming along and eventually found something else on the menu he liked, even if it was overpriced.

The conversation with Pat actually started on Asian food and her brother’s tendency to order Chinese food at any restaurant that served Asian food, even if it was a Thai or Japanese restaurant. And whenever he was eating at a Thai or Japanese restaurant, he would complain that the Chinese food was subpar.

There is a restaurant in northern Santomas that bills itself as “The best in Salvadoran and Mexican cuisine.”

I can guarantee you what happened. They opened what they thought was going to be a restaurant serving Salvadoran food and after being asked for the umpteenth time why Enchiladas weren’t on the menu, they caved to market demand. The Onion had a great article on how an American family went into a Spanish restaurant and were upset that their favorite Mexican offerings weren’t on the menu.

Apparently, It is not customary in Mexico to offer free chips and salsa before the meal. However, if you go to certain tourist towns down there a lot of them will offer it because they got tired of angry American customers feeling that they were being slighted. As a fan of chips and salsa, that’s one kind of American cultural imperalism that I can get behind.


Category: Kitchen

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2 Responses to Dining Where You’re At

  1. Peter says:

    I really wish I could go back to Britain and do it right, restaurant-wise.

    If you do, bring money. Lots and lots of money. Britain is not what you’d call a budget vacation destination.

  2. trumwill says:

    My aunt has a vacation home in Britain that I would love to take advantage of, though that wouldn’t be of much help in London or Liverpool or the rest of the island.

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