Time-travel with me back to 1977 in Phoenix, Arizona. That's the year that I ate Mexican Food for the first time.
I was nineteen, and had only been in Phoenix for a few months, having moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I drove there in an MG Midget, which was a tiny little two-seater British sports car, and the first thing it needed when I got into town was repairs. All cars need repairs, but old British cars ALWAYS needed repairs. So I found the first repair shop that had a Union Jack out front and went there. The place was called Delta Motorsports, and they had just opened a few years back. They specialized in Jensen-Healeys, but were willing to make an exception for me and my MG. They did great work, and became my first Graphic Design client when I designed a car parts catalog for them, which went on to become very successful, and started my career as a Graphic Designer.
One of the things that you do with clients is to go to lunch. And so one day we went to lunch at a Mexican Food Restaurant called La Cucaracha, which was on the southeast corner of 7th Street and Indian School Road. I spoke enough Spanish to realize that the name meant "the Cockroach", which I felt was a strange name for a restaurant, but I hadn't made the connection with the traditional Mexican song "La Cucuaracha" (La cucaracha, la cucaracha, Ya no puede caminar, Porque no tiene, porque le falta...).
I knew nothing about Mexican Food. There were Taco Bells in Minneapolis, but I never ate there. There may be authentic Mexican Food restaurants now in Minneapolis, but back in the 1970s there weren't any. So I followed the lead of my friends, and ordered what they suggested, and I ate my first meal of Mexican Food. Of course, it was too hot for me, and I remember suddenly, and desperately, reaching for the nearest glass of water, which belonged to one of my clients. I never lived that down, even though I learned to love hot Mexican Food, and always have a jalapeño with my Carne Asada.
Needless to say, there are a LOT of great Mexican Food restaurants in Phoenix. I'm no expert, but I know what I like. My favorite place nowadays is Manuels here in Glendale, on Peoria and 51st Avenue, and I just love their fajitas. Of course there's also... well, I could go on and on, but I won't, I'm not doing a commercial here, I'm just time-traveling. So if you've never tried Mexican Food in Phoenix, I highly recommend it. And keep a glass of water handy!
Image at the top of this post: Lacucaracha in the 1960s, southeast corner of 7th Street and Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona.
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