Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Best Mistake Ever!

As a fat adolescent, lets just say I was no stranger to food. I was not picky, I just wanted something that did not move faster than I did. My brother and I would regularly fight over food and who would be eating the most of it.

As an adult, I have lost the extra pounds and pride myself in being fit. Most of my friends that I have met in my adult life do not believe that I was ever fat. I would post a neighborhood swim team picture of myself in a Speedo with a spare tire to prove it, if I hadn't purposely thrown it away out of pure embarrassment. I lost the extra weight by working out 6-7 days a week and eating only chicken breast, brown rice, vegetables, and protein shakes. 

This is the story about how I developed an understanding of moderation:

It all began with the honeymoon. I had a wonderful honeymoon planned for my wife and I, we were going to spend a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I wanted to maximize our time in Mexico, our plane was to leave Kansas City at 6:10 AM the morning after our wedding. Well... the plane actually did end up leaving at 6:10AM, we just did not happen to be on it. We had made a terrible mistake of trying to take a 2 hour nap before catching the shuttle from the hotel to the airport. In hindsight, it was the BEST MISTAKE EVER! 

We finally made it to the airport after oversleeping 2 wake up calls and they graciously agree to put us on a 1:30 PM flight, thus our journey began. During our final approach into Puerto Vallarta, Mallory noticed that there was lightning on the horizon. I assured her that we were on our final approach and they would not have told us that if we were not going to be able to land. I was wrong. The pilot then came over the PA system and told us that we were going to be diverted to Guadalajara, as visibility was too low to land in Puerto Vallarta. After sitting on the runway for an hour and a half, being shuffled through customs, promised numerous modes of transportation to get us to our resort (only to have each mode recanted minutes later), and being told we would need to share a hotel room with 2 other strangers on the first night of our honeymoon, we decided to hire a non-English speaking van driver in a van with no A/C to drive us and 6 other strangers through the mountains and jungle of a foreign country to Puerto Vallarta at 1AM. Before we knew of the rain, mudslides,  and downed trees that awaited us on the trip everyone was pumped for the road trip. The one gentleman in our van that was fluent in Spanish asked our driver if we could stop and get some street tacos and cervezas. Our driver kindly obliged and took us to his favorite local taco stand where tacos were 5 pesos each (roughly $.40 US).

These tacos were unlike any taco I had ever had, soft corn tortillas with only meat, cilantro and onions. After ordering 4 Carne Asada tacos I was warned by a van mate not to try the substance that was frying and popping in the lard over to the right. I asked him what it was, he told me it was Tripe (cow intestines). I thought to myself "When is the next time I will be at a street taco stand in Guadalajara at 1AM with a chance to eat some cow intestines? Probably never. I must try them". They were actually quite good, the closest thing I could compare it to would be a pork rind taco. We ate our tacos and got some Pacifico for the road (Pacifico is great in the US but tastes way better in Mexico, its much like Coors at a bar vs Coors at the brewery). 

7 hours later we finally made it to our resort, showered, ate breakfast, and then went to bed to rest up for a week of food that would change my life forever.  The breakfast buffet consisted of the freshest fruit I have ever had in my life: mangoes, pineapple, papaya, and bananas. The guacamole was better that I could have ever imagined. The seafood paella that is pictured in the blog title (although technically a Spanish dish and not a Mexican dish) contained mahi, prawns, scallops, muscles, and green lobster (all but the scallops were caught in the Bay) was indescribably good. The green lobster tail was black with green spots and could best be described as a combination of red lobster and crab meat, it had the taste of lobster and the texture of crab meat. Mallory's personal favorite, the shrimp burrito, was worth going to the same restaurant twice a day some days. All week we dined on authentic Mexican dishes and drank tequila that transformed the way that I would look at Mexican food forever. Never again would deep fried, cheddar cheese covered Tex-Mex be suitable.

After that chance encounter with street food and subsequent culinary revelation, I came back to the United States on a mission. That mission was to find the best street tacos in America. My search has led me to gas stations, food trucks, and dive restaurants galore. In the process of searching for the best street taco, I have gained a new appreciation for all forms of street food and other exotic cuisine. This blog will journal my travels and review the eating of awesomeness that is my life.

Final Note: All of the best things in life come from missing your flight.

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