Been & Going

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Taco Fun Facts

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Love tacos?  Jersey Joe explores these fun facts about tacos!

THE 411

What: Tacos

Fact: Americanized version of Mexican food

Available: globally


Tacos are definitely one of my favorite foods.  But, living in the New York City area, it’s actually hard to find a restaurant that serves good ones.  Most, just slap cheap meat on a cheap soft taco and try to sell that off as awesome.  I don’t think so…

The best tacos I’ve ever had are at Nacho Daddy in Las Vegas, Nevada.  They now have 2 locations in Vegas: downtown just off of Fremont Street and another on Las Vegas Blvd.

Where have you had some awesome tacos?  I’d love to know, so I can sample and share!

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[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Christmas Fun Facts

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Jersey Joe checks out some more, fun holiday fun facts.


THE 411

What: Christmas

Date: December 25

Occurrence: annual


Have a safe and Merry Christmas!

christmas fun facts mini

[Desert Droppings] Delicioso! Not entirely.

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I thought I had the makings of a perfect Desert Droppings post.
Da dum da dum da dum.  Da da da da dum da dum.Desert- 062514- hat
I’d start with a little “Mexican Hat Dance” beat to get us in the spirit, then move on to poke fun at my neighborhood Smith’s supermarket (part of the Cincinnati based Kroger Corp., the nation’s second largest supermarket enterprise.)
Imagine a bleak January day in Cincinnati as background for a meeting of the Kroger marketing division seeking to increase profits at the NM Smith’s chain.
The brainstorming begins.
“How about a foreign food festival?”
“Hmmm…foreign…like “world flavors.”
“Foods from Greece, France, Sweden, maybe?”
“No,” pipes up a new hire with a fresh MBA, recalling the sun-drenched vacation she took in Cancun. “Mexico!”
(Now, the poking fun part.)
And – without glancing at a map or pondering the wisdom of Mexico as a source of “worldly foods” for New Mexicans, especially in ABQ where folks of Mexican descent abound and there’s a Mexican restaurant on every corner; where Smith’s shelves are routinely stocked with dozens of “Hispanic” items and Mexican fruits and vegetables fill the produce aisles year ’round; Kroger’s marketing team went ahead and devised for Smith’s a three-week “Savor World Flavor-A Taste of Mexico” extravaganza.
How funny is this?! It’s New Mexico, guys! Mexican food is so every day here. If you want to tempt Smith’s shoppers with exotic flavors from far-off lands try Swedish meatballs or Manhattan Deli mmmmmm whitefish salad…
Ha! Ha! Mexico! You’re barking up the wrong burrito!
That’s how my post was supposed to go, until, driven by curiosity to experience up close Smith’s Flavor Fiesta Festivities, I grabbed my shopping list and joined the fun. And it was about as fun as supermarket shopping gets.
Outside the store, a Smith’s staffer sold grilled “Mexican Street Corn.”
Inside, signs, banners, flags, and balloons carried the “Taste of Mexico” logo into various departments.  Sampling stations offered Desert--062514--haulguacamole,fish tacos, and layered caramel cake.
Shoppers were invited to spin a wheel and win coupons for cupcakes, marinated fajita meat,  tortilla chips, and fresh pineapple. Special  displays  highlighted an array of products including Kroger Chili Hot Beans, Mexican soda, Cajeta Quemada (goat milk caramel spread),  Mole sauce, spicy cheese, Mexican cookies, and “Fiesta” cakes iced in Mexican-flag shades of red, yellow, green, and orange.
It all looked very bright and tempting. I started filling my cart with items that had never been on my list- Dulce de Leche cupcakes, a new brand of guacamole, a bottle of Kroger Picante sauce.
Then OLE! It dawned on me! Kroger really did know their Churros from their chipotle. This “Taste of Mexico” promotion at Smith’s was no comical concoction of a clueless Midwestern marketing group, it was a deliberately designed test market effort disguised as a world flavor fest. Kroger wanted to know if shoppers in ABQ and other NM cities would savor and buy the Harvarti Chipotle cheese from Wisconsin, the dulce de leche sweets from Canada?  Would they use Kroger frozen chicken breasts in their Tinga de Pollo and serve up some of the dozen types of salsa in their salsa bowls (made in China, of course)?
Bottom line – if these items prove to be bueno enough for ABQ, they’ll probably sell in Cleveland or Kentucky and wherever else Kroger’s group of supermarkets are found. No wonder Kroger’s quarterly sales rose more than expected.
Fresh baked Churros, anyone?

Still, I have to add that there is one dark corner of this light-hearted foray into food retailing.
While Smith’s “Taste of Mexico” thing has  been going on, the news media have been reporting disturbing accounts of the thousands of families and unaccompanied children “migrating” across the US-Mexican border, only to find harsh conditions awaiting them in ill- equipped, over-crowded US government detention facilities. Even now, VP Biden is  busily spreading the word in Central America that the US is not open to these “huddled masses.” Desert- 062514- deport
But, consider, for a moment, this jarring scenario (which is well within the realm of possibility):
A group of newly arrived and as yet unapprehended  migrant children wander into a Smith’s supermarket which is colorfully engaged in its “Taste of Mexico” merriment. The checkout cashiers are wearing sombreros and bright green t-shirts that say, “Delicioso!” Signs are in Spanish and festive cut paper flags flutter above displays of familiar foods.
What are the young migrants to think but that, “It’s true! The Americanos love us! They really love us! We’ve made it!”
No, ninos, you haven’t made it at all. While Americans welcome and promote products and produce (as long as there’s a profit to be made) from across the border, the tired, the poor, etc,from south of the Rio Grande are as unwelcome as flies on fajitas. Sad to say, you are the victims of the mother of all mixed messages.  Mole and melons, si.  Migrants, no.
Will the US ever find a humane solution to the distressing plight of the migrants and others who are undocumented? Not soon enough.
When it comes to creativity, collaboration, and competent planning, our government has a lot to learn from Kroger and Smith’s.

[Dessert Droppings] Let the Cowchips Fall Where They May

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Blog laws require me to produce a 2013 retrospective and behold, the ABQ Journal arrived with its 2013 Cowchip Awards. Annual Cowchip Awards are a Journal tradition which highlights sick, twisted, tasteless NM happenings from the past year. So before we anxiously move on to brave the potential  pitfalls and downfalls of 2014, I herein present (with personal commentary) choice chunks from the 2013 Cowchip Awards. From the stomach-churning to the heart-warming, meet a selection of award winners.

Uber foodie, Anthony Bourdain, did a “Parts Unknown” segment on NM and falsely accused a classic Santa Fe restaurant of making its signature Frito pie out of “canned Hormel chili” and a “DayGlo orange cheese-like substance.”
This is the same Anthony Bourdain who can smack his lips over flame-roasted scorpion-on-a-stick in some dank jungle outpost that never heard of hand sanitizer and never once accuse the native street vendors of using canned scorpion.
I actually watched that particular Bourdain episode thinking some of my favorite eateries would be featured. I was feeling all flattered that NM cuisine was about to be showcased on national TV. But, no. Bourdain ignored the owl-shaped Owl Cafe’s legendary chili cheese burger; never went near the luscious pies and cakes at The Flying Star; and turned his gourmet gullet away from the green chili chicken stew at The Range.  Instead, a substantial part of the show was devoted to Bourdain squatting in a remote patch of desert, fawning over a group of cowpoke wannabes  who were  preparing a pot of lumpy buffalo goulash over a campfire.  A campfire! NM is withering in the throes of a multi-year drought!  What shmuck would build a campfire amidst the instantly flammable desert shrubs and grasses?
Bottom of the food chain to  you, Anthony Bourdain!

Another winning event:
A public meeting to discuss the mind-numbing topic of ABQ traffic roundabouts turned all pissy and patriotic, when an audience member shouted down the use of the “unAmerican” word “queue” to describe traffic flow.  To reach the meeting, our irate defender of the mother tongue, despiser of a “foreign” word with fewer q’s and u’s than ABQ, had to drive down Lagrima De Oro Road, over Paseo Del Norte Blvd, and west on Avenida Caesar Chavez.

A number of Cowchip Awards went to animals for their loco escapades:
I’ll skip the part about the cow that cut short a bus trip for the Gallup High School track team and get right to the eagle. The noble Dessert Droppings- 010714-eaglebird, lovingly rescued and rehabbed by an ABQ nature center, headed swiftly for the Mexican border on being released, without so much as a “Gracias!” Sure!  Exploit our welfare system and run, will you!  You birds are all the same!

And finally, a Cowchip Award for this hare-raising tale:
An award-winning rabbit was kidnapped from the Southern NM State Fair.  The blue ribbon bunny was found stuffed in a pillowcase on the NM State University campus and returned to his grateful 8- year old owner.
Prints and DNA on the pillowcase led to the arrest of the wascally wabbit-snatcher.  Ha! Ha! JK!  Ever hear of CSI New Mexico?  Neither did I!

Farewell 2013!  Don’t step in the cowchips on your way out!