Saturday, January 3, 2009

Habla Espanol?

Here is a bonafide statement of fact, and although extreme, I think I can say it with confidence. Please correct me if I'm wrong, of course... Here it is:

“One can not get respectable Mexican food outside of South/Central America and the US.”

There it is, I've said it. I base this on three trials over the past several months through New Zealand and Australia, and while repeatedly optimistic, I have yet to be proven wrong. And I'll go even further with my statement in that it's not just the food. Attempts at d├ęcor, names of dishes, explanations of a truly
“authentic” experience, and most disastrously margaritas!! I can safely bet that pretty much everyone reading this gets the craving, probably fairly frequently as I do, for a big plate of chips and salsa, a giant log 'o burrito, a big plate of tacos or a nice chimichanga. Hell, I can guarantee anyone that has ever had a hangover has made a speed-limit-breaking Run for The Border. But alas, while there have not been, and will probably not be, a Meximelt or Double Decker taco on our lunch, dinner, or hell, breakfast menus for quite some time, we figured we must try and make do with what we have. So, the attempts to fill the cravings were made.

Here are some of the sadder moments in Australasian attempts at Mexican cuisine.

From the back of the menu at a restaurant in Cowes, very SE corner of Australia - “How to Speak MEXICAN”:
Taco – TaR-co
Quesadilla = Kay-saR-deeya
Nachos = NaR-choes
Fajita = FaR-hee-tuh

Also from the Cowes establishment:
- Just because it's in a margarita shaped glass doesn't mean it's a margarita. Try it with a little Tequila next time... And fill the SOB to the top!!!

From the palate of another restaurant in Cairns... At least we hit it on the right night and it was Taco Tuesday:
Marinara does not equal salsa. Neither does ketchup. How hard is it?!?! Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, salt, chiles... Anyone over here ever heard of the internet? Epicurious,, etc...

We're not asking for much. Really. I mean, there has to be at least one person out there with enough seed money to fire up a T-Bell franchise somewhere in these vast islands! Hell, there's more frickin' KFCs than you can shake a stick at. (Although maybe the “C” stands for cangaroo...) So it's not like Pepsi doesn't have their foot in the door over on this side of the pond. I'm just putting it out there people. I wouldn't even mind working the drive-through...

Other random Australian culinary oddities:
We have yet to see one giant can, bottle, tap, t-shirt or advertisement for Fosters. Apparently, Fosters is only American for Australian beer. They don't drink the crap here. Victoria Bitter (aka VB) is really Australian for beer. Too bad it tastes like piss.
If I were to see an “Outback Steakhouse” over here, serving authentic Australian food, on the menu would be fish 'n chips, Indian cuisine, meat pies, toasted sandwiches and kangaroo burgers. Now go get yourself a Bloomin' Onion and keep living the Aussi dream!


Anonymous said...

I find this hysterical, as that was my experience in Australia and through-out Europe time and time again. No decent Mexican. And I'd love if they'd open the double KFC/Taco Bells that they have around the US & Canada! Seeing how you can't swing a cat without hitting a KFC! I can't tell you how many times in London after a long night of drinking how I've longed for a taco bell -- to no avail. Tragic and sad on so many levels, I know! -- Marcella

Anonymous said...

Forgot the comment about checking the alcohol content of australian beer...1.2 was it?

Nate said...

In my experience, you are dead on with the lack of good Mexican food outside the western hemisphere. A friend of mine who recently moved to Sydney claims that a guy from CA opened up a "real" Mexican place and there is a constant line out the door - the demand is there! Mmmmmm....tarcos.

Eleissa said...

oh, I feel your pain on the Mexican food business...being that I'm not the huge Taco Bell fan that N-Budd is, it's taken me quite some time to adjust from Vegas to Portland. BUT, I will refrain from feeling TOO sorry for you guys. ;)