Friday, February 01, 2013

Authentic yet mild


We had dinner last night at La Cascada, a Mexican restaurant just down the road from our house.

La Cascada owner Ignacio Patino serves up a hearty Mexican meal.We haven’t been there in more than a year. I think the last time I was there was when Rick Nelson and his girlfriend passed through here on their motorcycle adventures.

Maria and I were seated near the door where I had a view of the cash register area. Gazing about, my eyes fell upon this framed newspaper story about the restaurant and it dawned on me that I had shot the photos for the story.

Curt Hodges and I went there on Dec. 31, 2009 for information and photos and Curt wrote the story a few days later.

It was around 3 in the afternoon. I already had lunch, but Curt had not. Even so, when the manager offered him some of their fare to sample, Curt made it very clear that he doesn’t like spicy food. The manager assured him their food is tasty and painless and Curt agreed to try it.

I’ve known lots of people who are terrified of spicy food. My parents were that way. A Lafayette, Ind., couple who were in the Indianapolis BMW Club, chose to flee to a restaurant on the nights that I whipped up my jambalaya during club’s Colorado weeks in Breckenridge back in the 1990s. And, for the record, there wasn’t that much heat in my jambalaya.


I was reminded of this last night when I noticed this proclamation on the front of the La Cascada menu – “authentic yet mild flavor.”

That means “dumbed down for Gringo palates.”

I hate it, but I can’t blame them for leaving out all of the interesting spices. That’s what their customers think Mexican food is and that’s what sells.

(El Rodeo, a splendid little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Lebanon, Ind., is a notable exception. Their excellent camarones al diablo has me sweating after the second bite and slamming down glass after glass of iced tea.)

I asked the waiter last night if they could spice up my chicken fajitas, but his  English and my Spanish got in the way. When it showed up, it was hot in temperature, but not in spice. It was tasty, yet with “mild flavor.”

Maybe if I brought my bottle of Cholula…

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