Sunday, March 16, 2008

Better than a Quesadilla

Thick, mealy corn tortillas that have been lightly fried to a crunch on the outside, but left soft and chewy the rest of the way through. Easily a half of an inch thick, almost tomale-like in texture, and then the teeth pierce the inner pocket of hot, gooey monterey jack cheese and small cubes of al dente zucchini. The zucchini's crisp exterior complimented the silky, smoothness of the cheese. The many different crunches and chews, as well as the mixtures of the creamy cheese with the salty corn tortilla and the watery zucchini combined into a classic Salvadoran pupusa.


After reading the featured article in the Chronicle about tripe, I felt that I must try it for my first time. As someone who will try just about anything, and often enjoys some of the stranger parts of animals, I figured that tripe should be added to the array of delicacies that I have tasted. I went to one of the great Mexican places on 24th Street in the Mission and bought a bowl of menudo. The broth was a deep, blood red with an abundant amount of glossy bubbles of rendered fat. It had a rich, almost gamey tomato flavor, and was livened up with spicy and aromatic flavors of chili peppers. As I fished through the depths of the murky broth I found long but thin chunks of honeycomb tripe. This was it...

As I began chewing I was not surprised to find the texture to be similar to that of tongue or very fatty pieces of beef. It was chewy with a slight resistance to the teeth that allowed for the flavor of the menudo to be fully appreciated by the tongue. It was a unique flavor. Its roots were definitely in the realm of steak, but it had the gamey flavor similar to lamb, with an almost sour aftertaste. It was also possible to detect the remnants of the bleach used to clean the tripe. This may have been some of the sour flavor, or else the slightly bitter taste of the meat.

I can't say that the menudo was my favorite of the exotic meats I have tried, it seems to be an acquired taste, and maybe it will come some day.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Forgotten Favorite

It had been a very long time since I had last tasted this flavor combination. It starts with the crisp but doughy, toasted herb focaccia. The chewiness of this bread, together with the rosemary complimented the creamy, saltiness of the tuna fish. The sliced mozzarella had been melted so that the gooey cheese enveloped the entire sandwich, yet it the subtle cheese didn't overpower the flavor of the tuna. Its main purpose was for texture more than flavor. The final touch was sliced avocado that added the smooth texture that balanced out the chunky bits of tuna. My first tuna melt in almost a year.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Maybe it was the sunny, warm early March afternoon, maybe it was the Bob Marley playing in the background. Whatever is was, the soft, chewy, spicy chorizo melted in my mouth along with the tangy sour cream and acidic guacamole. The rice was soft and the beans were robust and earthy without being oily or heavy. The finishing touch was a spicy, not-too-wet salsa that didn't overpower the other flavors. It simply added spice and a slight crunch to the overall flavor. The copious amounts of these ingredients were wrapped in a warm, steamed, slightly grilled flour tortilla. This burrito was perfect for a beautiful day.