Weekly Column: Life is muy bueno!

©Stephenie Freeman

My life is filled with memories and most of them involve Mexican food. It is easy to make memories when they full of baskets of chips and dripping with cheese queso.

There was this one time when my mom and I were waiting in the drive-thru at Taco Bueno on 38th Street. It was a warm evening and the windows of her brown Audi were rolled down. We couldn’t help but listen as the man driving a truck in front of us tried to order.

Every time the man started to order, the German Sheppard riding in the back of his truck started barking. The man would stop and so would the dog, but the minute the man started to order again, so would the dog.

From what we could tell, it was clear that the dog wanted his own taco, and as much as he was barking possibly a mexi-dips and chips and a bean burrito too. My mom and I were crying we were laughing so hard, like it was the funniest thing we had ever seen. Perhaps for us right there in that moment it was.

Along with Taco Bueno, I loved going to Salas’s as a kid. Who didn’t? There was nothing tastier than their chips and queso. Knowing it was one of my favorite places, my dad took me there one night to meet his new girlfriend.

As I sat in between them at dinner, I wanted to make it clear that my mother had taught me well. So when the waitress asked me what I wanted to drink, I replied in my snottiest nine-year-old voice, “Milk, please.”

The girlfriend, who later became my step mother, just smiled at me sweetly and tried not to laugh. For twenty-plus years now we’ve joked about my bratty milk order at Salas’s.

Which reminds me of the time that my Uncle Bud made fun of me for ordering milk with Mexican food. “Milk with Mexican food? Yuck!” he teased and then continued to tease me about for years and years. I’m not sure why, but apparently there is something about ordering milk with Mexican food that makes people uncomfortable.

The Golfer and I returned to the Taco Bueno on 38th Street twenty years after the drive-thru dog incident. Out of all of the places that we could have chosen to eat after getting engaged, we decided that cheap Mexican food was the best choice because, well, it usually is. We talked about our future over soft chicken tacos and Diet Cokes. No more milk with Mexican food for me. The teasing had cured me of that. Besides, I was a big girl now.

It should come as no surprise that the night before I gave birth to our first child we decided to eat Mexican food for dinner, this time at Ted’s in Oklahoma City. I nervously ate my taco salad and enjoyed my chips and queso, knowing that the next time that we ate Mexican food together we would be needing a table for three.

Now as a family of four, we have started something called Taco/Movie Night. It’s my boys’ favorite part of the week. We eat homemade tacos on T.V. trays and watch old movies. Mexican food has now become a family tradition.

I’m not really sure why I have so many memories attached to Mexican food. Maybe I eat it much more often than I realize. Maybe the memories are really about the teasing and laughter and loved ones that accompanied the chips and queso. Maybe all of these memories aren’t really about the food at all. But I doubt it.


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