Monday, July 14, 2008

The Prescott

Tacos, in my mom's house, meant ground beef, caramelized in the family's secret ingredient, hand-grated cheddar, shredded ice berg, and soft-fried corn tortillas. Rosarita refried frijoles were on the side.

It was therefore a shock to discover that there were other ways to make tacos.

It was, perhaps, a coincidence. It may have been more of a subconscious conspiracy. Whichever, tonight I found myself strangely drinking a gin & tonic while thin-slicing a fresh crisp red pepper.

And why was that odd? And what does that have to do with Tacos? Well, hold on!

It was, probably, 1990, or thereabout. We were in school, employed and out for adventure. While it is good to have friends in low places, it is better at times to have family in high places. In this case, not high, but really just high enough.

Dr. B's cousin was the concierge at a fine hotel atop an even-finer restaurant in the heart of San Francisco. It was a nice hotel; tasteful by Reagan-era standards. She was able to get us a room, a nice room, if not a little cramped. Nicer, though, than three smelly college boys had any business being in.

Still and all, we drove, crammed into Tom's brand new tiny little Ford Probe, the 400 miles. Music came from Cassette Tape. We took turns sleeping on the miniature back seat.

We were welcomed for the weekend, the city lay before us, and Dr. B's cousin, and her husband invited us to their home for dinner. It was a charming and bright flat just north of the Park.

They were young yuppies, making the most of their time in the city. She worked at the hotel, and he went to school. Part time, however, he poured drinks at the same place his wife worked. It was also his time to cook.

Tacos, of course, with long strips of grilled chicken. Red leaf lettuce, red onions, corn, three different kinds of cheese (none of them cheddar) and as I walked into the kitchen, he was just starting to knife paper-thin slices of crisp red bell pepper.

These were TACOS. The inspiration for the current thing that I call "Tacos." And involuntarily, that thought, that memory of those Tacos is what comes to mind mind every single time I slice red bell peppers.

I mean, hell, I don't even remember Br. B's cousin's name, let alone her husband's name. I just remember the kitchen and those goddamn tacos. Although, I need to be very clear, the tacos ARE NOT the most-memorable meal, which I mentioned last night. While this is one (or actually two) of the stories from that weekend, and while the tacos were literally life-altering, They are not the meal I mean.

Thoughts of the tacos, though, were strangely woven with tonight's divine gin & tonic (made with locally-distilled Aviation Gin). It was a perfect combination, I thought.

The night before the tacos, the night we arrived in San Francisco, we were wised around the hotel for the semi-grand tour. It was a working night, and the cousin's husband was on duty with his portable rolling bar. (I need to get me one of those...)

Introductions were made, and smalltalk was bandied about.

And then, as he was a bar man manning a bar, the offer was made. The selection was slim, however, and I eventually accepted his offer to try a gin & tonic. It was to be the first one I ever tried. The first of countless many, it turns out.

And, it was a horrible thing. It tasted like a science experiment gone wrong. It tasted more like Malaria than its cure. I sipped politely, smiling appreciatively, biding my time until I found a suitable hole to pour it down.

So, not so much a grand premonition of my life to come. It was not exactly love at first taste.

Still for such a guy to have such a life-long impact on me, it's a shame I never remembered the cousin's husband's name. And while his taco influence lives on (side-by-side with my mother's) I understand from Dr. B that his marriage did not.

That however, has nothing to do with the rest of the legendary weekend of lore...


  1. I have to be in SF for four days at the end of the month. I am taking one of my kids. It should be a grand time. Please list all the things you enjoyed when you were in college. She is 12 and probably about where you were developmentally when you first went.

  2. Anonymous6:37 AM

    You're taking your daughter to stare at strippers and drink cheap beer....?

  3. Anonymous7:20 AM

    Go here:

    Get the pork tacos.

    Redefine your understanding of tacos. Again.

  4. Oh, don't get him talking about tacos al pastor again.

  5. She can drink cheap beer and stare at stippers here. But I think she is a bit beyond that.

    She wants to go to SFMOMA, the de Young, and has picked out a few resturants in Little Italy.

  6. His name is Brett. He's a cool guy and I still occasionally exchange e mails with him. His ex-wife, my cousin Danielle, has gone off the deep end. But maybe by now she is realizing that the grass is not always greener.

    Mind if I send a link of this post to him?

  7. Anonymous9:27 AM

    Fisherman's warf, chinatown, Lombard street, both bridges, castro district to see men holding hands. Thats my vote.

  8. the kid's mother12:36 PM

    "Fisherman's warf, chinatown, Lombard street, both bridges, castro district to see men holding hands. Thats my vote."

    Mine too.

  9. foreshaddowing12:37 PM

    ...speaking of the Castro...

  10. And Inog, I'm pretty certain that M1 is ahead of me, developmentally even now.

  11. M1 says your blog is lame. But she does say it is better than mine.

  12. She's right on both accounts

  13. the church lady3:57 PM

    Do you like tacos or wieners?

  14. the stock market4:26 PM

    My butt hurts

  15. anne heche4:46 PM

    I like wieners and tacos. but now I like wieners.

  16. portia de rossi4:48 PM

    She's my taco bitch!

  17. Lindsay Lohan4:49 PM

    Right now I prefer tacos.

  18. doogie houser4:55 PM

    I prefer weiner

  19. I'm pretty sure none of this ever happened.

  20. Oh Tom, it only gets worse from here. I haven't even told the Castro story yet...


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