Bleak Landscape
By Lydia on November 23, 2008 4:55 PM| | Comments (0)
Yesterday felt like an exercise in servility. I kept my "nod and smile" face on for hours longer than usual. Part of this was the fault of the Chez, as I catered a wedding during which most of my work was saying, brightly, "More sangria, sir?" and pouring, pouring, pouring. My only respite was sneaking into the dishtank to get sloppily trancelike and wait for the hours to roll by. Just call me #1 Dish-bitch.

Earlier, though, my nods were in full swing: "Gee, I bet it would be great if we just executed everyone convicted of a crime... Right from the courthouse to the gallows?... No, I don't suppose we'd kill all that many innocent people... Sure, I guess that's just the way the cookie crumbles."

I was sitting in a strip mall Mexican restaurant called Las Cazuelas, across the street from the Standale Meijer, staring alternately at a Sponge Bob Square Pants video playing on the TV for the owner's kids and a pretty awsome mural of a quaint South American house with waterfall. I was trying not to hog the chips and salsa in the middle of the table, but they were really good, and I hadn't had any breakfast. Also, its hard to moderate when your normal diet tactics include talking too much to eat, and I was simultaneously trying to not hog the conversation. OK, that last part was a lie. I was having no trouble not contributing to the discussion of crime rates and capital punishment.

I was out for lunch with Ted, his dad and his dad's wife. Hanging out with Ted Roper Sr. and his wife is a very different time than hanging out with Ted's mom. With her its all about the Bud Light Lime and the games and the smoking. With him, its more like meeting your boyfriend's dad.

The restaurant was pretty good, actually. It had all the ambiance you might expect from a strip mall, but the waitress was pleasant and prices cheap. I had flautas, which were crisp without being hard, and the chicken inside was nicely seasoned. They came with refried beans and rice, and were topped with chopped iceberg lettuce, a couple tasteless tomato chunks, and some pre-shredded cheese. The beans and rice were fine, but I found them lacking any distinct flavor, and the flautas could have really benefited from some lime or a bright tasting salsa. Without, they were simply unbalanced. The lettuce and tomato on top were an uninspired attempt at a vegetal note, and maybe if the tomato had not been supermarket quality it would have been welcome, but iceberg lettuce was only standing in for crunch, and the flautas themselves were doing that just fine. If it were me, I would have chosen some onion and cilantro instead. More flavor; good crunch. As to cheese, if it had melted over everything it may have worked, but it seemed more like a garnish meant for color as it stood. As it was, the cheese added no discernable flavor, and a not quite welcome stringy texture. I always feel like I can feel the powdery coating on these pre-shedded cheeses. I spooned a great deal of the house hot sauce over, but found not much of heat, or flavor, in it. It was only mildly disappointing, however, as the food was good, just too plain: no zing. Maybe the plate could have used some green chile sauce from Ted's enchiladas, which were snuggled under a blanket of the stuff, but Ted is territorial about all things green chile, so I didn't pry.

I ate my whole plate, slow as I could, but I was still embarrassed to see Bonnie pushing half of her quesadilla around her plate ten minutes later. Why do I never feel like a lady when I finish my food? Probably my Scarlet O'Hara complex flaring up.

I leave for Russia tomorrow. I am going with my dad, as a "Marketing Associate" with his company, for the World Meteoralogical Organization conference in St. Petersburg. Seriously, he made me business cards. I'm official. I plan to eat a lot and tell you all about it. Wish me luck, I am a little nervous! I'll be back Sunday.