I recently learned that the IHOP a couple of blocks from closed its doors for the last time. We went there often for Sunday brunch. We used to go to Denny’s until they closed it down. Denny’s has fond memories for us.
Growing up my family traveled every summer as most families do to visit grandparents and family. My parents had emigrated from Mexico in 1962 as newlyweds looking for better opportunities. They had both left parents and many siblings behind to embark on a new life together and each year made the pilgrimage back to visit and relate tales of life in the country they now called home. On the last stop before crossing the U.S. and Mexican border we always ate “our last meal” at Denny’s. Back in those days, once you crossed over into Mexico there were no casual restaurants to stop in for a quick bite and there were no fast food chains in Laredo, Texas. It was either stopping at a very fancy restaurant or taking our chances with a roadside taco stand and putting us at risk for Montezuma’s revenge.
We’d eat hearty because our next good meal would not be until we arrived at grandma’s house. All week long we’d have our fill of fresh, authentic Mexican food – quesadillas, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, tamales, rice, beans and lots and lots of tortillas.
Once our week long “vacation” was over we’d begin the long drive home and crossing back over into the states, we would stop at Denny’s again – we couldn’t wait to have a familiar meal of a coke, burger and fries! As children, a week felt like forever and by the end of it we longed for the comforts of home. A hot, juicy burger with melted cheese and the crisp crunch of pickles, lettuce and tomatoes tasted heavenly! It was torture waiting for the ketchup as it slowly poured out of the bottle onto the crisp, slightly greasy french fries – it was almost too much to bear. The meal was finished off with an icy cold coke.
This simplest and satisfying of meals was one we eagerly looked forward to and missed more than anything. Not the television shows, friends or toys. Although we would still have another eight hours of travel, a hamburger meal at Denny’s was all it took to make us feel at home again. It was not only a familiar landmark but a comforting ritual on our journey.
Today my family consists of my husband and three children. We continue to travel to México to visit our families and use the same route. The city of Laredo, Texas has grown extensively and now has many, MANY drive-through and quick stop restaurants. There are also many new casual restaurants on the Southern side of the border. That same Denny’s restaurant is still in Laredo in the same spot. Although there are now many options from which to eat a hamburger meal, it has become a family tradition to stop at Denny’s no matter what time of day it might be to make it our “last meal” and to stop there again first thing on our way back home. It just wouldn’t be the same anywhere else. My kids look forward to this just as much as my sisters and I did those many years ago.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Although celebretions have been going on all weekend for Mexican Independence Day, today Sept. 15, marks the eve of the start of the Mexican revolution against Spain in 1810. To commemorate the occasion, tonight at midnight Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, will come out on the balcony of the Palacio de gobierno and address the crowd with the Grito de Independencia - Viva la Independencia, Viva Mexico, Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! This same traditional celebration takes place simultaneously throughout Mexico and in many cities across the U.S. where there is a large Mexican population. These celebrations are huge with mariachis, bailables, speeches from local dignitaries and of course GREAT food! Upon gaining its independence from Spain, Mexico had a vast territory including a large part of the U.S. - Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California and others. There is still much debate on how the U.S. acquired the territory from Mexico. But what is done is done and the past cannot be changed, we can only learn from it and try not to repeat its mistakes. It is great that we can now carry out and celebrate the traditions of our ancestors and past generations from Mexico so that we can remember and honor what they went through so we can be where we are today and move forward. Perhaps modifying some of these traditions to fit our lives today and making our own history for the generations to come. Click on http://www.inside-mexico.com/featureindep.htm to learn more. Viva Mexico, Viva America!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
As much as i've put in every effort for my son NOT to have that stereotypical characteristic of the latin male - it has done no good. For he is more "macho" than his father ever was....(or used to be). Webster defines machismo as "a strong sense of masculine pride. An exaggerated sense of power and strength." At 22 the boy only thinks he knows the meaning of manhood - unfortunately we can only control what they learn and live at home and not the additional knowledge and experiences he "gains" from those he chooses to hang out with and befriend. In additon I am an Aries and he is Taurus, we constantly lock horns on many issues but most especially in the treatment of his sisters, and other female family members. This is causing great stress and conflict with his girlfriend. Last night we may have had a breakthrough and hopefully he will begin counseling to learn to change. I think he may finally understand how his attitude and relationships can make or break his future.....