Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 15: Chips and Guacamole

Many years ago I spent the January term of my junior year in college camping out in the Sonoran desert of western Arizona. Most of my days were spent hiking through the Buckskin Mountains assisting two geology majors with thesis work. We had a lot of fun exploring, but we also had work to do and we took it seriously. But even so, every few days we'd find ourselves quitting a little early and driving the 30+ bumpy miles on dirt roads and through dry desert washes into the nearest town, Parker, where we'd stock up on Corona (cheap so close to the Mexican border), tortilla chips, avocados, and guacamole mix. (And things to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, of course, although to be honest I can't bring to mind any other food item we ate on that trip.) These supplies were most essential to our psychological well-being. At the end of every dusty, tiring day, the first thing we did when we got back to camp was to mix up some guacamole, which we enjoyed with the chips and beer. Guacamole has never tasted so good, and we came to crave it like addicts.

Tonight my husband and I had dinner at a favorite restaurant, El Camino in Brunswick. El Camino prides itself on serving local ingredients in an authentic Mexican style. It does many things well, but the part I always look forward to the most is the first one--noshing on hand-fried tortilla chips sprinkled with sea salt and loaded with incredible homemade guacamole. The first bites of guac often send me back to those long-ago weeks in Arizona when at each day's end all we could think about was that first scoop of creamy avocado goodness washed down with a mouthful of Corona with lime. Those fond food memories are tinged with sadness--the friend who convinced me to join them on that trip passed away several years ago. But I think he'd be amused to know that the act of eating chips and guac frequently brings him to mind.

Chips, guacamole--
who would have thought they'd trigger
such strong memories.

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