On Goat Tacos in God's Waiting Room & My Hopes for 2018
I am in a waiting room. Waiting.
It's 11am on the South Side of Chicago and I'm in my grandmother's hand-me-down YSL coat, twitching in my seat, waiting for my name to be called. Dad is underlining a cryptic philosophical text, and Mom is wandering around snapping pics of the electric cello, which has no place in this fluorescent room, which is vacant aside from a smattering of vinyl chairs, a low bar, and a stage.
Where are we and what are we doing?
We're in God's Waiting Room, the room adjacent to the best goddamn goat tacos of my life. A few guys are sitting near us in leather cowboy boots, and one goes behind the bar to pop a Corona, offering his friend a brew.
Mom whispers "why didn't they offer me one?" -- sad to be ignored, wanting to be on the inside of this experience, a regular, when instead we're inciting all sorts of "are they lost?" glances.
We're the only non-Mexican family and baby believe me, we aren't lost.
"Remy? 3 people?"
We're lead next door and through the restaurant, and into the bowels of the kitchen, into a three seater table that's hinging on inappropriate -- my coat is almost falling into a vat of broth and dad almost knocks into three guys kneading dough, up to their elbows in flour.
"I love this, don't you?" mom whispers, and I nod. Because of course I do. This is kinda the shit I live for.
It's Thanksgiving Day and we're avoiding our wry, Jewish, gin-and-tonic-with-a-twist holiday with bodega rock and Mexican coke and stewed goat tacos floating in a sea of goat broth at a joint that only makes goat delicacies. We order one of everything, the table filling with consomme broth in beautiful deep bowls and platos of birria which is falling off the bone, with parsley and cilantro and onion.
This is the kind of year I've had -- a year of exploratory eating, off shore experiences, communal festivities, and outsider meals.
I've created food to share, gone outside my comfort zone to share the anthropologies and communities of others, felt like a loner, weirdo, and imposter in culinary spaces which were not my own, learned from the palettes and expertise of my friends, and generally eaten like a queen 24/7, 365.
So what am I hoping for in 2018?
Well, let's see. I want to go to Mexico City, San Sebastian, Portugal and Montreal; I want to explore the South (maybe Nashville?); I want to wake up with Julia Child's relentless excitement and my grandfather's relentless hospitality.
I want to eat cleaner, embracing vegetables and separating flavors, cooking for others whenever possible and continuing to explore.
I want to make my great aunt Lori's tiramisu (and to make it with half of her style which is equal parts husky laugh, coffee and Kahlua, 60s china, and remembrances of Italy), and serve it to my friends after a long night of good conversation; I want to eat a panini on the prow of a boat zipping down a canal in Miami, surrounded by sunshine with a cold beer in a cooler.
I want to take the train to Kitchen Arts & Letters, bookmarking Turkish tarts and double lemon pudding, for what we all know will be a disorganized but spirited Tuesday night dinner party.
I want to live inside the photographs I found in Nannu's basement, which are filled with Buona Pasqua cakes and raucous dinners of relatives I've never met, which all seem so filled with love and merriment that you kinda can't deal.
I want to keep it very real, and I want to do with you.
So here's to 2018. May it be filled with salty bread dunked in silky olive oil and apricot trees blooming in a field -- a place you haven't been to but are dying to see.