The Rev. Dana Prom Smith, S.T.D., Ph.D. (4/30/2014)
Q. Dear Answer Man, Abigail here. I hate to bother you again. It’s about Rusty. He’s been in trouble. He was arrested outside San Felipe’s Cantina downtown for rioting. He said San Felipe’s was cool, no problemo. He was getting a fish taco and a beer with Buzz, his friend from the garage down on “66”, when, all of a sudden, all hell broke loose on the street. He says he and Buzz went out to see what was going on and got jostled around. Somebody spilled a beer on him, and low and behold, he and Buzz were just swept up in this crowd of young street thugs. He says the cops said he stunk of booze, and “they just corralled us, cuffed us, and hauled us off to jail. They didn’t even ask us what we was doin’ there.”
I had to go down to the jail and get him out. I was so ashamed. Nothing has ever happened like this in our family before. Turns out that he wasn’t drunk. I asked him what he was doing down at San Felipe’s, especially for a man his age. After he got a little puffed out, he said that he and Buzz have been thinking about doing a study of fish tacos in Flagstaff, and “what better place to start than San Felipe’s Cantina?”
Needless to say, he’s mortified by what happened. I asked him whether or not he and Buzz were studying the kind of fish used and the seasonings. He said, “Hell, no, Abby, we was just running a taste test, nothing fancy like you learn at Master Gardeners, no high-falutin’ , hoity-toity stuff. We wasn’t checkin’ out the herbs and stuff like that.”
I said, “You mean you and Buzz plan to just go around town checking out the fish tacos and drinking beer?” “Yep, that’s about it.”
What do you think I ought to do, Answer Man?
A. Well, I think you’d better keep him at home for his own sake. He’s not safe running loose around town on his own. Buzz doesn’t sound like much of safety net, either. If you want to keep a man at home, feed him something better than he can get elsewhere, and it sounds like Rusty’s the kind of man whose heart’s in his belly. You can start by making better tacos at home than he can find in the bars throughout town. Just set them up with a TV so that they can watch Highway thru Hell or Alaska State Troopers. That way they’ll think they’re in some bar down town.
Q. What’s better about fish tacos at home?
A. The ingredients: fresh purple cabbage, fresh cilantro, and fresh tomatoes. The vegetables you get at most bars are at least two days old, and old cabbage takes on airs. Sometimes, the taco joints try slipping in lettuce instead of cabbage, and any fish taco aficionado knows that purple cabbage is necessary to have an authentic fish taco. Lettuce is for cheeseburgers, not tacos. Lettuce is so gringo.
Q. I just don’t know,
I suspect Rusty and Buzz like the smell of
stale beer you get in those joints.
Rusty even likes cold pizza and flat beer for breakfast. Reminds him of the semester he spent in college. Answer Man.
A. I know what’ll get him: home-grown chilis, freshly picked, the kind that’ll knock his socks off. You can even get him involved in growing them. Jalapeños do well in
, and you’ll be
needing them for a little kick in the salsa.
Maybe you can get Rusty to smoke them to get some chipotles for the
Q. Well, what about the fish?
A. Any white fish will do. Make sure it doesn’t smell. Batter and deep fry it. Fat tastes better. Fish is better for you grilled, but it’s crunchier and tastes better deep fried. Olé!
Copyright © Dana Prom Smith