“Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudome, Shirley “Hot Rod” Muldowney. Come on down to the Fremont Raceway. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.
Listening to my radio at night, as a young man, I would always laugh, then mimic the announcer whenever that announcement would come over the air. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Some of you may remember this, others might have enjoyed a slightly different version. It all comes down to the same chant. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. While I never made it down to the Fremont Raceway to see the “Big Daddy” race, this announcement has become more than just a memory to me, it is a flipping earworm that pops into my head every seventh day of the week. One that I now share with you. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. (Please, feel free to keep it.) This post may not be about Nitro fueled cars screaming down the raceway but it is all about Sunday, one of my favorite days of the week.
Many years ago I got a call to travel to Easter Island to work on a movie, catering for the film crew. Yes, that is the place with the strange stone heads. No, they were not carved by aliens. Yes, it is crazy far away. In fact it is considered to be the most remote inhabited place on the face of the earth. If you were to ask me . . . yes it is. So flipping remote. I traveled there in the years before the internet when faxing was all the rage. If you needed to send a note to someone then off to the fax machine and the crazy tone you went. I remember getting my first computer shortly after returning from Easter Island and, of course, had an AOL account. (Thanks AOL for all the free disks.) My brother, who worked for a computer firm at the time, gave me a fax/modem to connect to the WWW and the associated chat rooms. So cool was it to type out my fax and press send. Faster than snail mail, my communiques had entered the digital age. But I digress. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.
I hit the ground running, on Easter Island. The movie was already in production by the time I had arrived and I needed to push myself in order to match the crew’s pace. 12 hours days were more the norm than not. After a while one could joke that, “I only work half days. 12 hours, half a day.” Being in my 30’s, I was able to quickly find my stride and within the first two weeks had found my place. Now that I had settled in, I felt the need to explore my surroundings. Easter Island is not a large island. To exemplify this I will share a quick aside. After working in the kitchen for a few weeks, and chatting with the locals as to which sites to see, I set upon a plan. Our one day off was Sunday and I was determined to make the most of it. So this one particular Sunday I arose early, grabbed my back pack, walked 3 blocks downtown and rented a motorcycle capable of traveling the dirt roads. I then popped over to the one deli in town where I was able to purchase a white bread sandwich of bologna with mayonnaise and a bottle of water. With my provisions safely tucked away, I ventured to all of the hot spots on the island. First to the waterspouts, then to one of the three volcanos, a quick lunch at the only beach on the island, the two remaining volcanos, a quick stop to snap a photo or two of the big heads, return the motorcycle and then back to my room. All of this in three hours. Small island, but that is not this story.
This story is about Sunday. By my third Sunday on the island I had found my pace and was becoming anxious to take a stroll. Sleeping in after a long night of work, I awoke to the sound of chirping birds and stumbled into a nice hot shower. Finally out of my chef’s coat, I donned clean slacks, a button down shirt and set about investigating my surrounds. The town proper was long walk down a dirt road but I did not mind, I had all day. The weather was mild, the sun and sea breeze both refreshing. After a short while on my feet I spied some activity off to my right and ambled over to what all the hub-bub was about. Turns out that Sundays are for soccer. Cool. I watched for a bit to see if I recognized anyone then began to let my eyes wander around the field. Across the way I saw a line of people standing at a shop door. Every so often a person would emerge, place something next to their face and take a bite. Hmm, I said to myself, looks like I found breakfast. Not being able to walk across the field, for fear of being pummeled, I took the long way aroud to take my place in line. At this point I had no idea what to expect. When it became my turn to order I asked what was available. Empanadas! Was the reply. Yes please, was mine, and off I went, a warm cheesy breakfast in hand and mouth.
A week or so later I found myself off at an odd time of the day, midweek. Remembering that savory little treat I hustled back to the shop and was pleased to find the door unlocked. I poked my head in and asked for an empanada. (Insert awkward moment.) “We don’t have empanadas. It’s not Sunday.” The shop keep replied with a chuckle. (Wha – wha.) Turning dejectedly my concept of Sunday had changed and become cemented as the only day for empanadas. Many years later, my South American friends assured me that empanadas were indeed available on days other than Sunday and a smile immediately returned to my face.
Speaking of Sundays, this last Sunday found me at a great little Salvadoran place you may know of: Pupuseria Mercy. Located at 333 Tennessee, this place is a find. Now I know that pupusas and empanadas are two different things. Pupusas are definitively Salvadoran and more pancake like than handpie style. This last Sunday, in Pupuseria Mercy, brought those old Easter Island memories flooding back to me. A very kind gentleman took our order and explained the history of the shop and the dishes they served. I ordered a chicken and cheese pupusa and a pork tamale. Feeling the South American vibe I accompanied my meal with an orange Jarrito soda. The dishes, served on paper plates with plastic forks, took me back in Easter Island in an instant. The salty cheese and succulent chicken warmed my mouth while the pork tamale tripped lightly over my tongue and directly into my belly. Sauces, or more properly salsas, gave the dishes the desired piquance. A condiment worth mentioning is their pickled cabbage, Curtido. Combine the two and you have true Salvadoran cuisine.
Not only will you find me there on Sundays, but I look forward to stopping in midweek as well. Hmm, I forgot to ask if they do empanadas. Something else to look forward to.
Until next time,
Eat Well and Smile Often