It is a little after 3 am here as I sit here writing this. I am currently in my bathroom facing a dilemma of gastrointestinal proportion. I should back up and explain what on earth I’m talking about.
It all started in the far far away lands of Jakarta… oh wait wait not my story. Ok, so every non-Hispanic Southern Californian I know (myself included) swears they are a connoisseur of “authentic” Mexican food. They’re privy to some hole in the wall joint that makes the best “xyz” they’ve ever had. For me, my vice is lengua*, preferably in a taco with some salsa verde, onions, and cilantro. There are only 2 restaurants that serve it how I like it, and about a few months ago I found a 3rd while traveling for work.
I have to travel to a Podunk town in AZ for work every so often, it’s not Deliverance* status, but close enough. It was there where I happened upon this dump of a store where I’m not even sure of it’s name (It’s switched management several times so there are several names on the building). I thought to myself “oooh a hole in the wall, this looks promising”. After all anyone who’s anyone knows that poorly kept up establishments are prime for having the best cuisine, not food safety violations…obvi.
The first time I walked in, the place was mildly clean with the kitchen exposed to it’s patrons. From previous work experience, I’m fairly well versed in food safety and health code violations. This place should not be operating in it’s current state. However, I did not care, because I knew this would be the holy grail of bomb ass Mexican food. So my first time, glorious! The second, even better! I would always text my parents and a friend or two that I was eating there, and if I died they would know why. I would tell them not to be sad because I had died happy having some of the best lengua I’ve ever experienced.
So my third time getting food there, I noticed the cook was doubling as both cashier and cook that night, and the kid I usually dealt with as not present. He didn’t speak english so I proudly mustered up my high school gringo Spanish and told him what I wanted. “Tres tacos de lengua por favor” (See, almost fluent 😉 ). He gave me a creepy smile, you know one of those smiles that lasts a few seconds too long and you start to feel uncomfortable. But, turns out he did not charge me so I was totally a happy camper (I have no shame).Though I’m not a broke college kid anymore, I still operate like one so I’ll take whatever I can get for free (again, no shame in my game).
My food took a bit to get out as it is a cook to order food. Once I got them I went to my car to get started on heading back to Satan’s butt crack. I took a bite of my delicious tacos and they were magnificent. Maybe because they were free that made them that much better, but for whatever reason, they were on point. I did notice that there was something a little different but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what, so I just kept on eating. I sent my proverbial text about eating there and dying and so on and so forth. As far as I was concerned it was a great endeavor. I had amazing lengua at no cost of my own and it was amazingly delish. Life is good! Now fast forward several hours to now where I am praying to the porcelain god.
I should probably mention that I started eating pretty healthy and have been steadily exercising (not because of New Year’s but because I went to Santa Monica earlier last week and realized that I’m a total fat ass now). So, at first around 2 am I thought that my stomach was just not used to the not so healthy tacos I had ingested hours prior, so I decided to wait it out. But after 45 minutes I knew it was something more ominous. My stomach was in knots and I was feeling the most incredible pain and discomfort. I will spare you the details and just say this night/morning has not been fun.
So my takeaway from this exuberant adventure is that: 1, this will be my 3rd and last time eating at that place. 2, maybe I should have a little more apprehension when it comes to eating food from gross restaurants. 3, maybe there is something to be said about accepting free food. Lastly 4, apparently 3rd time’s a charm, be careful what you put out in the universe. But hey, at least I’m not dead!
*Lengua is cow tongue, don’t knock it til you try it. It’s like a chopped up poor man’s filet mignon.
*Deliverance is a creepy backwoods movie made in the 70s which features Jon Voigt and Burt Reynolds. I do not recommend you watch it.