It’s nice that the weather is getting sort of hot. This is, of course, because it’s not really all that hot yet. I’ve been spending a surprising amount of time outdoors and I’m kind of digging it so far.
Normally, I’d be peeling sunburned skin off my forehead like a fruit rollup, but I have apparently managed to avoid all of the solar death rays lately. This is probably because I’ve deployed a lot of tactical late night drinking and used things like porches and hats as protection. It’s all true, but it sounds like far too smart of a plan for a guy like me. There’s a bunch of little things that likely aren’t very important that we should talk about so let’s get it on.
CHAMPAIGN REVISITED — FOOD VERSION
As I mentioned in the last column, one of my buddies came in last weekend for a freaky little extravaganza. There was a lot of fun stuff, some of which we’ll probably talk about later, some of which will never be spoken of again, and probably a decent sized part that cannot be remembered with any dependable accuracy. Either way, it’s nice to hang out in your own town with someone who used to live here. He comes back about once a year, so it’s not like it’s any sort of massive enlightenment, but he still has fond feelings for our little community and that sort of makes me look at it in a different way, too.
On the day he came in, I made a little beef brisket and this made him very happy. He said he doesn’t barbeque much in Austin because the temperature in the summer is just too high. Personally, I’ve never encountered a temperature that is too hot to cook out with, but I would assume this temperature is somewhere around 250 degrees, because that’s usually what I cook the brisket at.
Note: I used a nice little recipe I found on Tabasco.com. Normally, I just slather that shit on stuff that doesn’t taste particularly good, but that brisket was pretty sweet and I fear it may become not only the “Summer of Rum,” but also the “Summer of Tabasco.”
Eventually, that meat wore off so we had to get some more food. This wasn’t so much because we were hungry. It was just because we were smart enough to know that a person can’t drink for 15 hours a day without putting something besides alcohol and nicotine into his system. We were really only eating one time a day so you have to make it count. We decided on Mexican, but that’s not really much of a complete decision anymore around here.
I think my pal sort of assumed we would either go to Dos Reales or Fiesta, since those were the places we used to go. Those are both fine, but honestly, there’s just so much new stuff it’s hard to regress. We finally settled on Mas Amigos because I promised the chips would be heart breaking. They were. I mean really, how many freaking tortilla chips are so awesome that a person can actually begin to crave them. The other food is great, too, but those chips are the cat’s pajamas.
When we spoke of our meal later at a party, things really heated up. “You went where? Yeah, that’s great, but you have to try so and so for this and another place for that.” Almost everyone had a different opinion and I’ve seen less heated abortion debates. Some of the names mentioned, in no particular order, were El Charro, Maize, and Cocina. Geez Louise, I haven’t even been to two of those places yet and didn’t even know one of them existed. Besides learning that I am the worst tour guide a person could ever ask for, I also learned that our local restaurant scene is getting really interesting.
It’s probably a fairly easy trap to fall into, not exploring enough in your own town. I totally get it though because you find something you really like and it’s hard to take a chance on something that might not be as good.
When we woke up on his last day in town, there was really no need for discussion about the meal because we hadn’t visited Li’l Porgy’s yet and the rib/chicken combo is like crack/heroin to that freaking guy. He just loves it. I swear he was probably chanting his order in his sleep, “rib and chicken combo, extra hot sauce, bread on the top.” You could tell he felt a little guilty for not trying Black Dog yet again, but it’s hard to be too tough on a guy from Texas who still thinks Porgy’s has the best barbeque he’s ever tasted.
Even this wasn’t without controversy though. Hell, when we were drinking some beer on the porch later that day a few people even started mentioning other barbeque places I didn’t even know existed. Besides feeling inadequately familiar with my own town, I also felt like we may have to eat again before the night was over. We managed to drink our way past his idea, but it was a serious threat for at least five or ten minutes.
It’s swell to just relax and catch up and get the old gang back together for a couple of 15-hour shifts of drinking. It would probably be a fine idea to maybe eat more and drink less on his next trip, but if I suggest something like that there’s a good chance he would never speak to me again, let alone come to visit.
It was great seeing my friend again, even if it was only a couple of days. He enjoyed it when I bitched about the seven-minute commute from Champaign to Urbana. He thought many of our ladies were quite lovely. He found the nightlife enjoyable. He loves coming back to Champaign. Maybe it’s because of all his friends or possibly in spite of us. Either way, it’s good to see him. It’s also good to see our town in a little bit of a different light.
Buona Sera, senorina, kiss me goodnight.