TACO NIGHT

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Back in the 60’s it came in a little foil pouch and my mother would stack them in the second extra drawer. We may have called it the spice drawer but really, the only spice in that drawer was Lawry’s. The remainder of the items to be found in the drawer were Betty Crocker coupons, left over to go chopsticks, maybe a soy sauce packet or two and the odd recipe mom clipped from a magazine.

 

Lawry’s was mom’s go to seasoning for . . . almost everything. Certainly spaghetti. I recall a story told by my sister. She was 19 and was an exchange student in Denmark. Her host parents were very kind and wanted to serve her an American meal to welcome her into their home. They did a lovely job, she said, but it was not the pasta she was used to, it was just noodles and tomato sauce. Kind of bland, she reported back. When she wrote to my mother, she asked her to send over a packet of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt so that she might make them authentic spaghetti.

 

I chuckle to myself at the thought of this now. I rarely cook these days being blessed with a steady diet of the amazing foods available to me here in town. But there is one recipe that I have mastered and that is Salsa Bolognese. So confident am I in my recipe that if any of you out there think that their recipe is the bomb well then, I openly challenge you to a Bolognese Smack Down. I will share a little secret with you – whole milk. Not cream nor half & half, whole milk. There are a few other tips and tricks that I have picked up over the years but I will keep those to myself until Richard Freedman’s unbiased report is published in the Times Herald.

 

Back to Lawry’s. I remember walking in to the kitchen one evening and my mother was working on something new. There was freshly chopped head lettuce, small diced tomatoes and grated yellow cheese sitting in bowls. Sitting in a pan, normally reserved for roasting meat, were U shaped yellow disks. When I asked what we were having she replied, “Tacos.” “What are those?” “They are Mexican sandwiches.” “Cool.”  That is when I noticed that she had meat browning in her favorite pan. It was almost time for dinner so I was asked to set the table which, I tell you openly, I did happily, even at the age of 7. The next aroma to hit my sense of smell was . . . Lawry’s. Putting it all together at age 7, I came to quickly realize that all ethnic food was seasoned with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Those were my first tacos.

 

Back to Denmark. So my sister, wanting to repay her hosts kindness, made spaghetti her mom’s way using her contraband packet of Lawry’s. I made a mental picture of their faces when my mother read her reply letter. “It was too spicy for them. They ate it but did not finish their plates.” Now my sister is a good cook now after a lifetime of passion for it but I hesitate and wonder: Was it the Lawry’s or her cooking? In truth, I will never know what grimaced the faces of our post war allies.

 

Speaking of tacos, the freaking weather was so hot here this week that the normal diet of burritos, chicken sandwiches or burgers was just not appealing to my crew. So we opted for something light and refreshing: Tacos. We have a number of lovely Mexican restaurants to choose from so we tried a few this week. All of them were tasty and satisfying. A perfect lunch on a warm summer’s day. One taqueira stood out among the rest: El Dos de Oros Produce Market on Tennessee. Wow! Spicy, warm and satisfying. I order the Fish tacos and they came perfectly seasoned and cooked with pickled vegetables and a wedge of lime. I had to purposefully slow myself down I was eating so fast.

 

Now certainly I miss my mother’s cooking. Only because I miss sharing a meal with my mother. Every now and then I spy a Lawry’s packet in the grocery store and smile and the thought of all those ethnic meals my mother served us growing up. But for tacos, real tacos, it’s El Dos De Oros for me.

 

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Until next time,

 

Eat Well and Smile Often

Tommy Judt

 

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