Thursday, August 23, 2012

Did You Say Ceviche?

I have spent a large part of my day thinking about dinner last night.  I picked Alexis up at about 7pm and she suggested we dine at a somewhat trendy Mexican restaurant called Autentica in NE Portland.

I agreed but did not look the part with worn carpenter jeans, sneakers, and a ridiculous WalMart sourced grey tee-shirt that says: "The party's at my place".

The last time I saw Alexis was in the Fall of 2004.  My mind was focused on catching up.

Still, all I needed to hear was the word "Mexican" and my head was reflexively nodding in agreement because I assumed the usual: salsa and chips, tortillas, mojo do ajo, quesadillas, enchiladas ranchera or verdes, taquitos, etc.

So when yours truly started in on the Autentica menu more than a little surprise set in.  The offerings seemed a little too ... well frankly, authentic like the name clearly says.

I managed my 'fish out of water' experience by deciding on a fish dish.  Clever huh, no?

I decided on Rock Fish under the heading Ceviche in part because it was at the top of the menu and also because I wanted to eat something healthier.

"Good choice Ridwan.  I would not have thought you like Ceviche.  But do get it.  I have had it here before and it is great."

Of course the only part I heard was "good choice".

I decided on a starter "sopa de tortilla" because I was intrigued that it was described in the menu as containing "fresh Mexican cheese, avocado and Oaxacan cream".

It turned out to be a great choice but not because I knew what to expect.

When my Rock Fish Ceviche showed up it looked like this:

I tucked in and immediately tasted citric sauces that combined quite well with the avocado strips and fried tortilla strips.

When I hit the fish I said: "Oh this ain't too bad but why is the fish cold?"  To which Alexis replied: "Well Ridwan that is because Ceviche is raw fish. Did you not know that?"


"Damn.  How the hell did that happen?  Mexican Sushi?" I thought pressing a smile.

I did my level best to look impressed and engaged but the raw part was unsettling.  It did not taste bad from what I ate but I have spent my delusional epicurean life dissing Sushi and repeating the same bad joke each time someone asked whether I 'do Sushi'.

You know the one that goes if they cooked the Sushi it would not be so bad.

Nonetheless, there I was trying to look sophisticated in a room full of hip people who seemingly knew authentic Mexican in the Pacific Northwest better than the Azteca chain of Mexican restaurants that make idiots like me think they can order what is essentially Tex Mex dishes in contrived Spanish.

The Ceviche on my plate did not hang around to humiliate me though.

Alexis proved she could be both accommodating and beautiful, and all in one sitting.

I proved that being a middle-aged man does not mean zilch when it comes to knowing authentic Mexican or just about anything else really.

But the damage did not stop there.  I am the man behind this vitriolic blog after all is said and done.

As is the usual case with my runaway mouth I responded to Alexis' discussion of Mexican cuisine by saying that my friend Art and I like to stop in at Taco Bell from time to time for a burrito and several tacos.  Oh and nachos of course.

I tried to ignore the disdain that stared back at me through usually kind eyes but I was hemorrhaging badly.

OK so now I know.  Authentic Mexican can be tricky for the uninitiated lover of what goes for Mexican stateside.  I know I know ... the empire reduces and distorts.

I also know that Ceviche, like Sushi, would taste a whole lot better if they cooked it thoroughly in a nice rich garlic butter sauce with some fresh salsa and nachos smothered with jalapeños on the side.

I should mention that dinner tonight will be at Subways.  And I will be alone, dammit.  

Just jiving.  I am, after all, still my mom's prettiest son. ;0)

Picture Credit

No comments: