About the Rambler



Welcome to my ramblings on dinner & drink, people & places, our planet’s health & the future of food. I’m a journalist, author and media trainer. My kitchen forever smells of garlic and curry. And much like my mother, I start thinking of dinner long before breakfast….

Funkytown

Would you like guacamole with your dim sum? Tortillas with your hotdogs? Apparently, this place has it all.

We laughed when we spotted the shop while waiting for a red light. But it shouldn’t surprise us—everywhere we look in Albuquerque, we find funky things. We find little shops (like the Dhaka Bazaar) and eateries (like the new Moroccan/Tunisian restaurant on Central or the Mexican/Greek spot I’ve passed a hundred times) that reflect a vibrant, if eclectic, mix of cultures in this town.

For myriad reasons, we are still home, still in New Mexico, still finishing obligatory tasks before embarking on our next travels. But that’s OK. It’s life, and we’re rolling with it. We’ll get there.

Meanwhile, we’re thinking of taking a multi-ethnic tour of home: traveling for a day or two or three through this city, stopping at all the funky little places we’ve passed from the roadside that have sparked a curiosity about what’s inside. I’m certain we could eat for days, just up the road from home, and feel as though we’d traveled across the globe.

I’m reminded of an assignment I gave my class last fall in Missoula. One day, I asked the students to spend a few hours in a situation or place that made them feel uncomfortable, out of sorts, off their beaten path. I asked them to watch and listen, think and write. I’d done the same thing with my class in Burma, a few years earlier. Some students ate new food, others sat at a bar whose clientele was not of their usual style. I think what most of them found was the same sensation I find in travel: a jolt to the senses, a heightened awareness of everything around me. As soon as I land in another country, I walk the streets. I visit the markets. And I sit for a long while with my notebook and pen. I see the world in ways I never could, if I always stuck to the same routines.

We can do that sort of exercise 10,000 miles from home. Or we can do it in our own backyards. The trick is to break the patterns we create in everyday life. I believe we see more that way.

How many places can you find in your neighborhood that don’t fit your usual routines? Where can you go and what can you eat?

Perhaps a plate of tacos served with chopsticks?

Why not.

8 comments to Funkytown

  • Tacos with chopsticks, now that’s an interesting concept. I don’t suppose I could spill my taco any worse with chopsticks.

    The closest thing to the house is an Indian restaurant and then there’s a sandwich shop less than a mile from here. Otherwise it’s a few miles to a huge tourist area with lots of restos.

    Nothing quite like the Azteca :)

  • Maureen, I’m entirely envious of your nearby Indian restaurant! And speaking of mixing cultures… it’s Fat Tuesday, and Jerry is in the kitchen making laksa. Yum.

  • Happy

    One of my favorite taco’s these days is at Koi fusion- food truck now with a permanent kiosk at an outdoor mall- Korean tacos, very very yummy. The quesadilla with korean chicken, kim chee, and cheese is AMAZING! So I’m all for tacos with chopsticks.

  • I think that is one of the reasons why travel is so addictive. You transport yourself and become a foreigner. You become a keen observer, always relating things back to what you are used to. No matter how adventurous or open minded you are, you have a base set of ideas. I’m keen for tacos with chopsticks, although maybe nachos and chopsticks would make more sense. We do a lot of fusion here in New Zealand. I think it has something to do with how we are so far away from everywhere, we don’t have any qualms about being authentic. I like to cook in the same Frankenstein, fusion way. If it tastes good, does it matter? Kung Pao chicken burrito? Sure!

  • Happy, I’m thinking we might have to make Korean tacos here at home. We can get such great, fresh tortillas down the road, and Jerry always has a jar of kim chee in the fridge. Hmmm…

    Genie, so true. And to all of that, I would add that I love the way travel, over time, changes who I am – and my base set of ideas. I often look back on my life and try to remember the person I was before such-and-such trip… because I’m always a different person afterward. That evolution is definitely evident in my kitchen. While it’s sometimes fun to cook “authentic” dishes, it’s even more fun to mix and match regions, cuisines and experiences.

  • In the place I live, in England, the majority of people is ‘from here’ and as a result it is better to avoid ‘ethnic’ food most of the times. It is not a blend, it is a bend in a not too nice direction.

    I have to admit that my experience is quite different. I have decided to live in a country that is not my own. I always feel out of sorts, even when I come back to my native country. I am often challenged in my habits. I guess I’ll settle sooner or later, but for the moment it is like this. Does it make me better as a person? I hope so, but I find it a bit stressful in the long run. I never feel at ease and I can’t opt out when I need a break. But maybe, it is a phase – I just moved too much lately.

  • Caffettiera, thank you for sharing your experiences. I think I understand a bit of what you feel, living in a country that is not your own. There were many times, while living abroad, when I faced those same challenges. But I do think challenge is good for the soul!

  • Brandy Rx

    Surprisingly, the Aztec Chinese place has amazing Cuban Sandwiches. I highly recommend! :)

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