Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fast food- Taco Chulo provides respite a little combobulation

So I'll admit to feeling a little discombobulated of late. I was in SF. Then in SC. Then in NYC. Then back in SF, and now here I sit back in Brooklyn. I'm really excited to be here, working hard, but I'm a little Daniel-sick and as I said a little discombobulated.

This sense of confusion began when Daniel and I visited the city for our recent two week sojourn. Here I was in a place I know so well, for a relatively extended period of time, but without really living here. It was odd. And being the food oriented person that I am, I sought a sense of grounding in some of my old favorite New York flavors - hummus, challah, date bars, and bagels.

While Time argues otherwise, I find that when I feel a little anxious, I crave comforting familiar foods, so boy was I in luck two weeks ago when I was able to treat a little low-level anxiety with one big old burrito - courtesy of my old friend Taco Chulo...

For the three years that I lived in Williamsburg, the El Gallo burrito, featuring savory tender chicken in a spicy salsa blend of guajillo, ancho, and morita chilies, was a staple of my diet. While I am now quite devoted to the veggie burrito at La Taqueria in San Francisco's Mission, my heart still belongs to Chulo. Back in the Williamsburg days, I would get home at night, see if my beloved roommate Ariel, an equally commited El Gallo fan, was game, and then we would place an order for delivery. Easy as one-two-three. Until the day that the brains behind Taco Chulo had the gall to remove our friend from the menu.

Now this could have led to utter devastation, but the gods were smiling, and armed with a now probably quite valuable relic of a menu and the knowledge that the folks at Chulo will allow you to "pimp" your own burrito, we were able to recreate the glory that was El Gallo, and our tradition continued unmarred.

So when I entered Taco Chulo for the first time in over a year, I felt hopeful that my craving could be sated. I looked at the menu and struggled to remember exactly what had gone on the burrito of my dreams. The waitress came, at first bold enough to try to remember my order, but when she realized that I was going to list what I wanted ingredient by ingredient, she wisely got out her pad.

Satisfied that I had ordered correctly, I sat back to read my book and to wait. A few minutes into my relaxing read, however, I had a terrible realization. I had forgotten to ask for cabbage instead of lettuce. I scurried to the counter to alert the waitress of my grave error. She looked at me, in my state of burrito-induced panic, a little strangely. Was there a glimmer of concern in her eyes? Or was it fear? I didn't care. I needed that burrito to be just right. Could she do it? Was there time? Finally, sensing the urgency of the situation, she hurried back to the kitchen. She'd see what she could do.

A few minutes later she emerged with this...

Ah, it was perfect. Cabbage and all. A comforting combination of the crunch of the said member of the Brassica oleracea species, the chewiness of the tortilla. The whole pinto beans adding a little pop to the the satisfying bulk of the potatoes. Salty, spicy, and a little sweet. Utter perfection.

And in the hopes that if enough people hit up Taco Chulo and order my dear El Gallo, they might reinstate it. Here is the list of ingredients:

Taco Chulo's El Gallo Burrito (RIP)
-whole wheat tortilla
-pollo rostizado (chile-spice-rubbed chicken)
-potatoes (NOT RICE!)
-whole pinto beans (NOT REFRIED!)
-marinated cabbage
-salsa seco
-cilantro, onion, radish
-cheese and crema optional

Go, try it. It will bring you comfort.

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