Ok, not really. Because living in Southern California gets me close enough for what I really want – Mexican food. Yummm. I’ve liked Mexican food as long as I can remember. I have wonderful memories of going to Mexico and stopping at the most wonderful taco shops and eating tacos on the most incredible freshly made tortillas. I also have the memory of going in to some random restaurant in Ensenada and requesting a “hamburguesa con queso” while my family & high school boyfriend (now husband) ordered fish tacos… and I ended up with a fish burger. With cheese. Now, I know that my Spanish isn’t that great, but I think that the people behind the counter were just giggling at the poor little gringa who got a fish burger and didn’t know what to do. Instead of asking for something else (for fear of appearing like a rude American) I just doused that sucker in ketchup and practically swallowed it whole. Yuck.
But I digress.
After being diagnosed with Celiac disease, I cried a little bit at not being able to eat fresh flour tortillas anymore. (Seriously, if you’ve never had any flour tortilla but a store bought one – and you’re the random person that is reading my blog that still is a gluten-consumer – close your browser and go find one. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have any easily accessible, book your next vacation to Central America.) And not being able to have amazing California burritos anymore? Heart-freaking-breaking. (California burritos are the very healthy phenomenon of carne asada, sour cream, cheese and french fries all rolled up in one very awesome package and wrapped in a flour tortilla.) But… I quickly realized that the Mexicans were a very kind people to my diet otherwise. Corn tortillas? Check. Rice? Check. Meat? If it’s carne asada, double check. Beans? Ok! Cheese? Yum! And basically with those several ingredients you suddenly have a plethora of options open to you.
I can walk into a Mexican food establishment and, aside from the burritos, eat quite a few things off the menu. Score a point for me and my intestines!
It’s truly a good thing I like Mexican food. My coworkers, however, are darn tired of it – when they ask if I want to go to lunch – what’s my usual response? “Sure – where do you want to go? The first taco place, the better taco place, the Americanized taco place, or In-n-Out?” Usually the tacos win. Much to their annoyance but whatever, they do it because they love me. Or because they’re hungry.
Yum, hello lunch from today!
Of course I should add that you should always check with your restaurant to confirm the ingredients of the things you’ll be eating. Sometimes the rice base has wheat in it – often times the corn tortillas are cooked on the same surface as the flour tortillas (ask if they can clean the surface or if they can microwave them. Sure, they’re not as tasty when microwaved, but better safe than sorry!) – and often times the chips are cooked in shared oil with other gross gluten-y things. So it’s all up to you – and your comfort and sensitivity level – if eating out is worth it to you. I have a few tried & true taco places at this point that I feel comfortable eating at, and it’s one of the few types of food I feel comfortable going to even without a designated gluten free menu. And now, I want chips & salsa. Viva la Mexico!