A Tale of Two Enchiladas

To bring bad news...it is difficult. It is difficult to break the news of her son's death on the field of battle to a widow living in a suburb of Cincinnati. I have never done it, having never even been to Cincinnati. But I have bad news of a different kind to bring now, and it is painful. It will leave you shaken, so fortify yourself.

This reporter has devoted more than one page to previous Mexican restaurant adventures. He has spoken of plastic tacos, unwieldy puffy tacos, tacos with lettuce popping up in unwanted places. And when he begins to describe the story that follows as one involving enchiladas, let the reader be immediately and acutely aware that the significance of this narrative extends beyond any particular food type, shape, or description. Consider that in murdering his or her arch enemy, the villain hardly bothers with such a trivial matter as whether to administer the poison inside the vehicle of corned beef on rye verses roast beef on pumpernickel, save in the case of the poison in question discoloring the roast beef so that it looks like corned beef, thus tipping off a discerning murder victim in time to divert the first bite. Of course, murder victims, especially English ones, are typically not inclined towards keen observational skills, which is why they get themselves knocked off in the first place.

It may be said at this point, that my observation skills were not altogether unlike those of the typical English murder victim today as I sat glancing over a rather sizable Mexican restaurant menu. Certain key words that would clearly fall under the heading of Clue on M. Hercule Poirot's little notebook did not impress me with any special magnificence as I noticed them at the time. Words such as "meat" in the place most Mexican restaurants would substitute "beef," "chili gravy," and "cream" without any mention of the word "sour" before or after made themselves known to me. I recall a mention of "American cheese" also.

My order was given to the girl who looked suspiciously like she had never eaten there before. I chose the number six, being two cheese enchiladas and some kind of puffy thing I don't remember the exact description of, but, having had a run in with a previous puffy item once before, it was decided that further experimentation could not hurt. It was an erroneous decision and almost cost me my very life. However, I am not altogether certain that the number six was any deadlier than the number fourteen, number twenty-seven, or number sixty-one, puffy or not.

It happened in that fateful manner which only occasionally visits us, as if the Lord is trying very desperately to teach us either to understand the level of poverty that so many of the earth's inhabitants undergo, or simply to warn us to get up right now and make a run for it, I still do not know which. But I sat reading Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities right around Chapter Five where the squalor and misery of the inhabitants of Saint Antoine is so vividly detailed. As the chips and salsa descended upon me, I began to have a more-than-vicarious experience of the squalor and misery of the poor folk of Saint Antoine.

True, their chief problem was the lack of food, whereas mine was the quality. When possible, their diet consisted of French provisions, however simple, whereas mine was supposedly Mexican. Also, they were on the brink of an uprising I believe, and I may be mistaken because I haven't gotten beyond Chapter Six yet, and my knowledge of the history of the French Revolution is like unto my knowledge of algebra (history, theory, or application), and I had not yet begun plans for an uprising against anyone. However, the idea did cross my mind a few minutes into the entree that an uprising of some sort, armed or unarmed, might be in order.

In short, I waded through not only the worst experience I have ever had in a Mexican restaurant, but I am quite sure the worst in any restaurant of any kind. And when I say experience, I do not mean that the lighting was bad, the server went missing, or the other patrons were being disruptive. No. I am saying that the food in this joint was disgusting. Now perhaps you are thinking to yourself that this happened to be a rare example of authentic Mexican food being a little foreign to the tastes of an Oklahoman accustomed to the Tex Mex style of things. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no. Get this through your head. No! I don't know if I have ever really had truly authentic Mexican food - probably no one has. But I have enjoyed every style of it that I ever have had, and there are many. This is not an issue of style. This is an issue of quality, and this place had none. To say the food was disgusting may be understating the phenomenon. It was revolting.

We will speak no more of the matter, nor shall we discuss particulars. I will refrain from mentioning the name of the establishment and only say that it occurred somewhere in the heartland of Oklahoma. I would expect Mexican food like this in Cambodia, not Oklahoma.

So be warned. Before entering any personally untried Mexican restaurant in a small Oklahoma town (there's another hint) call me at 405/214-8253, and I will tell you in code whether or not to proceed.


Note: The above mentioned phone number is way old now, and if you decide to call it, you may just find someone on the other end of the line who knows nothing of this story. It is just possible, and I mention it as a fair warning.

© 2015 Dane Tate