It’s Friday. You’ve been knee deep in workers’ comp all week. Let’s take a break. Today I provide this non-workers’ comp related, yet crucial diatribe concerning a mainstay of mexican cuisine. You may read it, and then take the rest of the day off.

You’ve earned it.

My wife and I flew into Albuquerque, New Mexico Wednesday. We were on our way to Farmington, which is in the Four Corners area, for a weekend family gathering. We stayed the night in Albuquerque, preferring to split the 6 hours of flying (long layover) and 3 hours of driving into two different days. This also, of course, gave me the chance to get some mexican food not otherwise available to me anywhere east of the Mississippi. This is, after all, New Mexico; the Land of Enchantment and killer New Mexican cuisine.

After we checked into our hotel, we meandered over to our preferred Mexican Restaurant, a place called Garduño’s at Winrock Center. Now, Garduño’s was in the past part of a small chain, and I am sure that locals will scoff that I am not touting some superior, albeit unknown to anyone, local hole in the wall as being the best mexican restaurant ever. It is touristy, but frankly the food, which makes liberal use of New Mexico Hatch Chiles, is very good. The spice palate is not necessarily for the faint of heart, or pansy easterners.

There is one other thing that Garduño’s does; something every good New Mexican mexican restaurant does – they serve sopapaillas as God intended them to be served, as a bread accompaniment to the meal.

Sopapaillas (pronounced soap-ah-pee-ya) are a deep fried mexican pastry. When done properly (correct oil temp is crucial), they puff up and become hollow inside. They are then served to a consumer plain and unadorned. The consumer of said sopaipilla will then nibble off a corner, and fill the inner area with honey, creating a delicious, if not sometimes messy, snack. Traditional mexican restaurants out west serve them with the meal. 

Mexican restaurants in the east couldn’t serve a decent sopaipilla if their lives depended on it. I have no idea why, but these style restaurants in the east often don’t offer sopaipillas, or when they do, they are on the menu as a dessert. They cover them with cinnamon and sugar, dump ice cream on top of them, drizzle chocolate across the top and then spray whip cream over the entire God forsaken mess. 

It is a complete travesty, and definitely not how God intended them to be. Someone should set these people straight, but for some reason, my wife gets very embarrassed when I try. I have found a local Sarasota restaurant, a place called Mi Pueblo, that will serve me sopaipillas in the correct manner when I request it. The server always looks bewildered, however, at the point where I inform them how God intends them to be served. Perhaps I should stop standing on the table when I make that proclamation.

At any rate, I do enjoy the opportunity to see a sopaipilla served the correct way, and to have the opportunity to slather honey all over myself in the process. We will be returning to Albuquerque Saturday afternoon in preparation for our Sunday flight home. I hope I can convince my wife that another visit to Garduño’s would be the right and just thing to do. If you happen to be there Saturday, I will be the sticky looking guy with the goofy grin on his face. Don’t be offended if I do not shake your hand, as it will likely be coated with gooey honey and sopaipilla residue. Rest assured I will be in my happy place, with spicy food I love and sopaipillas in the manner God intended. It just doesn’t get any better than this. 

Except in Santa Fe – that place has the best mexican food on the planet. But that is the subject for another Friday……..

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