The Answer

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I posed the question “What’s a girl gotta do to get a good margarita in this town?” on April 4th.

I found the answer.

An airplane.

Did you know that Gardunos has a location at The Palms casino in Las Vegas? Yes of course you knew that and so did I, The Palms being owned by those good New Mexico boys the Maloof Brothers.

On Thursday, I entered the establishment with much trepidation. Would it be the same as my beloved Winrock Mall location? Would the margs taste right? Would the menu be the same?

I exhaled a sigh of relief to see the *exact* same menu. I ordered a marg. Aaaah, there it is.

I had an obscene amount of green chile, what they call their “Chile Gourmet”, a green chile bowl con machaca. The fruit of Hatch was hot that night, so hot I was “whoo’ing” and sweating like an amateur. Such delicious pain.

Such a happy New Mexico girl.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m going again tonight! Yipee! And taking some “newbies”. Hope they love it! Aw really who cares, *I* love it (and so does that wonderful man who will hold my hand and give me water when I weep “it’s too hot” tears) and everything is gonna be all right in my world.

Enjoy the weekend!

Lime+Tequila+Triple Sec+salt+ice = love

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What’s a girl gotta do to get a good margarita in this town?

I moved from the great State of New Mexico about ten years ago. This Memorial Day, in fact, marks ten years ago. Oh how far I’ve come in lo these ten years. The span between 28 and 38 sometimes feels like a lifetime.

I was a wide-eyed innocent back in the day. I’ve become more cynical, less career driven and much, much calmer in these ten years. Not to say that wouldn’t have happened had I stayed in Albuquerque, but I think living in “the big city” has grown me up…a lot.

At first I wanted to throw off my New Mexico roots. I didn’t tell many people I was from there thinking it foreign and backward. The people I did mention it to said “oh, like Taos?” Good lord, if they only knew there was SO much more to the state than Taos. Or Santa Fe.

A lot of people in San Francisco have asked me about Santa Fe. I think the Madison Avenue advertisers have done a good job of hyping “the mystique”. I guess if you aren’t from there it’s all mysterious and stuff. For a local, it’s a tourist place. Locals avoid tourist places.

In order to help my fellow San Franciscans understand, I began to liken Santa Fe to Pier 39. I’d get a startled “oh!”, but they got it. I’d tell them there was much to see in a state that big that didn’t include Santa Fe or Taos. Then I’d drop this tidbit on them: you can’t fly into Santa Fe on any of the major airlines. That was usually enough to get them talking about something else.

But time has passed and I’ve gotten perspective on my state. Now I find I’m proud as hell of being from New Mexico, and I’ll shout it from the rooftops. My boss at work wears a USC shirt on most Fridays because it’s his alma mater and he’s very proud. So I got online and ordered up a nice crimson NMSU shirt and began wearing it on every Friday, grinning at him in staff meetings. Sadly he didn’t notice until I pointed it out…..

NMSU made it to the NCAA this year. Oh man, after years of looking at the Duke posters and brackets outside of my VP’s office (and my executive VP and the VP of the group I worked in a few years back) I was so damn proud to post up the wall outside my office with NMSU schwag this year.

I had a laugh when a group stood outside my office looking at the stuff and laughing about how they hadn’t heard of New Mexico State. I said, “hey, by the damn way, our Governor is running for President!” They looked at me with blank stares. I said “Bill Richardson” helpfully. The response was an appalling, “who?”

Bah!

But ok, I’ve gotten used to people thinking I’m from Arizona. I’ve gotten used to “oh Taos” being the answer to the statement “I’m originally from New Mexico” or jokes about a left turn at Albquerque. I’ve learned to deal.

What I’m still struggling with is the lack of good Mexican food around here. You’d think a state with a population of Latinos at or better than half would have some kicking Mexican food. You would be wrong. At least for the Northern part of the state. I lay no claims to the food down south not having spent enough time in research down there.

My loving partner thought he knew from good Mexican food until this past October when, on a road trip, I turned him on to the delights and joys of the fruits of Hatch, New Mexico.

But more than that…more than using tomatillos for the green in your salsa, more than finding *gasp* CARROTS in my fajitas, more than seeing low fat refrieds on my plate, the one thing I miss is a real good margarita.

It can’t be that hard, right? And yet it is. It’s all about the mix. Gardunos does it well, really well. My mouth is watering as I type…. Sadies also does a fine job. I think one of the best margs I ever had was in Juarez at SeƱor Frogs (I don’t think it’s still open at that location). It was great because it was fresh squeezed lime juice, a bit of sugar, and tequila. All nice and unmessed with. Fresh and oh so delicious.

You should taste the crap I have to put up with around here. It’s unnatural! It makes a homesick girl want to cry.

Now there is a LOT of food that the Bay Area does REALLY well, (I’m talking to you Peter and Mark Sodini), but so far…Mexican food isn’t one of them.

Don’t EVEN get me started on guacamole. Avocado, lime juice, tiny bit of cilantro, tomatoes. THAT’S IT!

Why’s it gotta be so hard?

Sigh, sometimes it doesn’t pay to be an expatriate New Mexican…..

The State’s answer isn’t mine.

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On March 15, 2007, Arnold Vigil wrote an article in the ABQjournal titled “To Mix, or Not Chiles?” (terrible grammar, by the way…..).

In this article, Mr. Vigil discussed that the New Mexico State Legislature, currently in session, is contemplating a “State Answer” to the “State Question” which was established on the books in 1999. The state question, as most natives already know, is “Red or Green”, asked by wait staff in restaurants and referring to which type of chile you want on your eats.

The proposed State Answer is….get this…”Christmas”….referring to wanting both.

Ok…I don’t want the state answering for me. Mainly because I never order both. But also because that answer is dumb.

None of my friends order both. We are confirmed green chile fans. Hell, I know a few folks from Hatch and other spots who contribute their crops to the state’s supply of green chile. Plus, I like the taste of green better. Red chile is usually left out in the field too long and roasted too long and it takes on a bitter flavor. Bitter is NOT what I want on my huevos. No, a nice smoky green chile is the stuff of life. Red is okay. I’ll have it on enchiladas sometimes…nice on carne adovada, of course. But I’m a green girl and most of my buddies are too.

And if we did order both, we’d say both. I think I remember one time at Gardunos when I was a kid, my dad ordered both, but he said “both”. No self-respecting native would say “Christmas” or even more schlocky “Navidad”. Ugh!

As New Mexicans, sometimes I think we shoot ourselves in our own feet by giving over to scholcky and silly. Actually, a lot of that comes from, I believe, people who moved to NM…but moved there like 20 or 30 years ago and fancy themselves to be natives. No.

Maybe a turista can giggle and feel so “in” by ordering “Christmas” on their burrito. The waitperson will bring it to them. And all will be fine. But those of us from there originally will roll our eyes at the ridiculousness. I guess coming from there you have to learn to give over to some of the silliness. If I can endure Nelson Martinez on the news and then endless commercials for his Mariachi band, schlocky content set on “extreme”, then I can handle my own freaking legislature catering to the inane.

Hey, this may be a north vs south thing. Maybe up North they say “Christmas” with frequency. South of the Sandia Casino, no self-respecting New Mexican would give in to that.

And I have to be honest…I’m a little tweaked that the Legislature thinks they can answer the age old “red or green” question for me. If this passes, does this mean everyone has to have both all the time? Oh the horror at the thought! My mouthwatering Chopes chicken enchiladas with a fried egg on top, smothered in green and *gasp* bitter ass red? NO!

I don’t want this to pass! I don’t want this answer on the books! I’m outraged!

Who is the lobbyist that can best represent the interest of us the few, the proud, the hungry!??! In the name of Sadies and Gardunos and Nopalitos I DEMAND that I be given a choice! My choice!

Don’t let the government dictate your combo plate!

“Christmas”…fer chrissakes…forcing an answer in un-American.


Photo by Karen Fayeth