Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Fair Food


Up until today, the only place I could find a Navajo taco (unless I made them myself) was at the State Fair or the Utah Arts Festival.

I actually spotted “Navajo Hogan” on 33rd South about a year ago and didn’t get around to eating there until today. I think I tried to go there for dinner with friends and it was closed. Only open for lunch. Noted – only I’m rarely out in South Salt Lake in the middle of the day.

Well, today I was. And today was the day I got me a Navajo taco. Now, I talk about food a lot, and I talk about being a healthy eater and I like nice restaurants, but sometimes nostalgia is stronger than your more refined taste buds. Navajo tacos remind me of being a kid, being outside in the summer and family picnics. I don’t think I ever had a Navajo taco at a family picnic, but you know what I’m getting at.

The second I walked into Navajo Hogan I felt out of place. There were maybe 10 other people eating there. The customers were either truckers, 75 year old couples or Navajo. And everyone was very quiet. Suddenly I was conscious of the fact that I was wearing heels as I conspicuously clonked my way to the counter.

The owner was nice although he didn’t seem quite sure why I was there for some reason. I mentioned I had never been in before and so he went over the menu, being very specific about what vegetarians order and mentioned the special. I ordered the traditional, declined a drink and sat down at a little table. Typically when I get lunch all by myself I take it to go, but this past year I’ve taken to eating by myself at the establishment. I looked around a bit more at the people there and had a flashback of a diner in Fillmore where my family would always stop at for lunch when we took road trips to Southern Utah. Mmmm…grilled cheese…

The owner kept checking on me to see if I was OK. I think I was OK. He took a minute to go in the back and turn on some traditional Native American music. “Maybe he thinks I’m a food/restaurant critic” I thought. Awesome. That’s when I started writing a review of the restaurant in my head.

Not long after I heard a voice from the kitchen, “Traditional taco for the lady!”

“Oh” I jumped up, “That’s me.” But it was brought to me before I could step away from the table. The man told me where I could find a knife and a fork.

So let’s talk about the taco for a minute: when I make Navajo tacos I’ll use chili, kidney beans, cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, olives and salsa. This taco, although much gianter than I thought it would be had everything but sour cream, olives and salsa. Oh well. Good enough. I still ate about three fifths of the mammoth.

I looked around at what everyone else was eating. I tried to spot sour cream on people’s plates to see if I missed out on something. I watched the owner as he walked around, gathering people’s empty plates and throwing them away. He asked this one man how his baby was. The man was at least 60 years old. I assumed it was his grand-baby.

I kind of appreciated the fact that the food came with paper and plastic picnicware – made me feel like I was at the fair, only I paid $6 instead of $10.

When I couldn’t eat any more I took my plate to the trash can. To the left was a little cart with salsa. Dang. No sour cream though. I spotted the owner on my way back. “Come again!” he said.

Maybe I will.

2 comments:

Kelly D. said...

You know, I don't think I've ever had a Navajo taco. My sweet tooth always takes me straight to the funnel cake line when I'm at the fair. Maybe I'd better go check out Navajo Hogan. Or force YOU to make me one (I am a sucker for sour cream, after all).

Saule Cogneur said...

I really like this story. Trying out new restaurants is one of my favorite things ever, but sadly I rarely do it.