I was ten years old the first time I tried Pico de Gallo. I remember this because, at the time, Pico de Gallo seemed revolutionary. In my household, salsa was the runny orange-red stuff that came from a jar: a mild, tomatoey sauce liberally scooped using Tositos brand corn chips. Pico, on the other hand: that was like, real vegetables.
(Aside: I’m not trying to denigrate my family’s reliance on/preference for highly Americanized Mexican food. In early-1990s Minnesota, the Americanized stuff was pretty much the only thing you could get.)
Yes: Pico de Gallo. I first tried it when my godfather made a batch for my family. My godfather (dubbed “Uncle” by my family) was the one who taught me to eat with my fork in my left hand, knife in my right; who advised me to “marry rich” when I told him that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up (I was 10, OK? #childhooddreamz); and who introduced me to one of my now-favorite condiments.
I recall with clarity the skepticism I felt watching my godfather chop tomatoes, then an onion, then cilantro (which, in Minnesota at the given time, was pretty damn exotic). Where was my fallback salsa? I fretted; I stewed. I considered making myself a snack of mild cheddar on Carr’s so I wouldn’t have to try a hateful new food. But you all know how this story turns out: I tried the unfamiliar relish and I was an instant convert.
Confession: Hook and I sometimes buy jarred salsa. Mostly Mrs. Renfro’s, but sometimes I pick up a bottle of Trader Joe’s salsa verde and/or what one friend refers to as “the crack salsa” (which is actually just Salsa Autentica). BUT, we never, ever buy premade Pico de Gallo. There are two reasons for this: one, Pico is so easy to make that to buy a tub of it (for, like $5.49) would be hella wasteful; and two, those tubs of premade Pico creep me out.
Today was Taco Wednesday in our house: not as alliteratively pleasing as Taco Tuesday, but every bit as tasty. Naturally, along with the seasoned steak and rice and cheese, we had Pico, which was delicious (as always). I’d be surprised if it wasn’t delicious: it’s a bunch of fresh veggies seasoned with lime juice. Also delicious? SOUR CREAM. I topped off my tacos with real, honest-to-god sour cream, and it was awesome. Greek yogurt is a good stand in, but, SC, nothing compares 2 u.
Apologies for the lack of recipe revelations of late. To be honest, I’ve been subsisting on standbys — hefty salads, sandwiches, stuff from the Whole Foods hot and cold bars — and I haven’t tried any new recipes this week. BUT, I’ve read through the latest Bon Appetit (cover to cover, y’all), and this latest issue has given me a few ideas…
I’ve also come up with the mid-year goal to eat only at restaurants I’m excited about. Impossible? Well, duh: the inclusion of “only” makes this goal a flop from the get-go. I should say that, as often as possible, I’m going to eat at restaurants I love and avoid those I don’t. This city has too many good restaurants to justify eating at crappy ones. That, and I’d rather spend my going out $$$ on something I actually like, rather than going to Squat & Gobble, getting a mediocre $12 omelet, then ignoring the waves of regret generated by my realization that I could have cooked a way better meal at home — for about $7 less.
I know that S&G (and similarly so-so joints) will never be fully banished from my restaurant repertoire, but I’ll get as close to banishment as I can. Amen.