Growing up, I never ate Mexican food. Never did a tortilla, refried bean, or dab of guacamole cross my lips – at least until I was in college. But now, it’s all I want in uncertain, tired, stressful, and even many joyous occasions. It’s a comfort food I found only as an adult.
On a recent trip, my husband and I drove for hours – days really – looking for something we just couldn’t find. We hit every small town, walked the main streets, searching for a bit of local culture and charm – the kind we run into a lot in Wisconsin. But it was not to be. After another day of side roads and diversions, pulling into a town that promised a historic waterfront with a charming downtown that actually yielded a few mostly closed businesses (and the open ones all empty, rather charmless bars), boarded up buildings, and a large cement wall between the town and the water, we dejectedly realized our search was likely in vain. Tired and disappointed, we headed to the nearest Mexican place, for there’s solace in tortillas.
It wasn’t the first time. Many trips, even ones a little more rewarding, often find us in a Mexican restaurant at some point. A long day of driving or the excitement and stress of being in a big crowded city for several days straight often leave me craving fajitas. Tired and a little dehydrated, we ate Mexican after my first triathlon. A visit to the emergency room after a bee sting was followed by tacos. Our engagement dinner a few years back found us in a Mexican restaurant after a long afternoon and early evening driving around the Olympic Peninsula. My now-husband was a little embarrassed – it wasn’t what he’d hoped our first meal as an engaged couple would be – but to me it was perfect. Perfectly us to end up eating Mexican.
Comfort can come in nearly any food, found at any time. It isn’t always something you grew up with or remember having at certain times as a child or teenager. Sometimes your comfort food is something that appears at just the right time and place.