In my family, taco Tuesday has always been a thing. A close semi-personal relationship with the local Mexican restaurant has been a constant my whole life. It occurred to me today that I also have an odd history with being called by the wrong name. Here at my local joint, I’m known as Mirissa, growing up it was Amanda and over in PT, it was Owner Of The Pinball Bar (never an official name, just title). Don’t misunderstand me, I always correct for the first few months but eventually give up and just run with it. I’ve never thought it mattered much. Just realizing now, there’s actually a long history of people just never remembering my name correctly that bleeds into this story. Amanda, Iranda, Mirissa, Randa, Mavanda, Samantha, Mira… at what point is it weird not to correct people anymore?
I digress, purple.
Growing up the place to be was Chiuhuahua’s in Ferndale. It is still hands down one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever been to, holding the title of personal favorite for more than twenty years. That was back when onions and wheat didn’t try to kill me on the regular and my order was always this delicious crazy layered burrito type dish. I suppose my love for Chiuhuahua’s really started somewhere around my freshman year of high school. My friends and I would skip school and huddle in a booth eating bottomless chips and salsa, drinking virgin margaritas and gossiping until we decided to hoof it back to class.
Around the same year, 1998 or 1999, we had a power outage on Christmas Eve. My mother had always made chicken and dumplings up to this point. On this powerless eve, she decided we would just go out to Chihuahua’s instead. Little did we know at the time, it started a trend.
Growing up we always had crazy large amounts of family over on Christmas Day. They would filter in around seven in the morning and the house wouldn’t be empty again until nine or ten that night. Sometime around seventh grade, we voted as a family to celebrate our own personal family Christmas early. It allowed more calm, and for us to laze about with our own traditions instead of entertaining people the whole of the day. As adults, this flexibility allows us to all pick a day to be together while also taking into consideration spouses and work commitments. We don’t always live near one another either but we make it work. Plus, who doesn’t like an extra holiday?
My mother could eat Mexican food every single day. She attributes this fact to spending the first twenty-five years of her life in southern Los Angels. I can not do this. But I can eat various forms of Asian food every single day, so I get it. Let’s just say when we go out together, we always debate and she always wants tacos and being the mom, she usually wins. After the powerless Christmas, Mom who would celebrate with tacos or some other dish voted to keep the tradition up. So in my family, whether we go to the local Mexican joint or we make it at home, traditional Mexican dishes are a staple on Christmas Eve.
I think my father was on board right away for his own reasons. His best friend and my surrogate uncle is Guatemalan. My father lived with his family for a number of years and I think this small tradition lets him pay a homage to both the family that took him in without question and his own history. While I know Guatemala and Mexico are different there’s a lot crossover in their dishes. My uncle and father don’t see each other much anymore, considering the distance between them, but with social media, they’re able to stay in contact easier than in years prior to the interwebs.
I know what your thinking. Miranda, (yep, that’s the real name) it’s the middle of August and you’re telling us about a December tradition. Isn’t it a bit early to bring out the holiday stories? Well, yes. Yes, it is. But the thing is I don’t always have a plan when I write. In fact, I have become an outliner for this exact reason when I work on larger projects. Crazy, right?
I started this blog after ordering Tacos cause it’s Tuesday. Alejo welcomed me, “Hello Mirissa!” with a genuinly sparkling smile and my head spun with memories. Memories of hundreds of family dinners, birthdays, anniversaries, of holidays and skipping school. Of my uncle and cousins and my childhood best friend. Of a culture which is not mine, but one of which I’m happy to be attached to in my own small way.