Mexican or Fusion?
On this occasion we wandered east of Náměstí Republiky into Žižkov or thereabouts in search of a Mexican restaurant Nathan recalled noticing. After some perseverating, we found it and went in.
It certainly looked like a Mexican restaurant, at least the extravagantly decorated kind. Czech Mexican restaurants seem to have gotten the hang of flashy Mexican décor, although as I haven’t personally been to Mexico, I don’t know whether this sort of thing is authentic or merely American pseudo-Mexican kitsch.
The waiter, a burping character who was determined to speak English to us, brought plasticized menus which were just about the size of our table. We were a bit taken aback to get enormous multicolored menus that looked as though they would be more at home at Denny’s, but opened them up to see what our choices were.
To our vast surprise, we were greeted by a series of foods that seemed to relate to every part of the globe except Mexico. Since we were hunting for the Mexican entrees, we didn’t pay close attention to them, but it was hard to ignore them since they must have been 95% of the menu. I recall that there were Thai, or perhaps pseudo-Thai, items. Whether there was also sushi, I couldn’t say. Presumably there was middle-eastern food in there as well. We kept flipping pages and avoiding dishes intended for two people that cost a fortune. At some point I noticed that in small print the word “fusion” appeared near the restaurant’s otherwise Mexican-sounding name. Oh. Usually when I run into “fusion” in food, it is of Asian cuisines, which at least have a few ingredients in common.
We weren’t sure whether to be amused or repelled, or just both. At Peg’s party, I had told them how Mary Roach and I once threw a “Weird Food” party in which everyone had to bring a food (for example, peanut butter) and then sample the foods in hitherto unimagined combinations. It was highly successful, but on the other hand no one expected to make a meal out of any of their experiments. (As Mary is now the author of Stiffs and I write about surrealism and suchlike things, you can see where we might have come up with an idea like the Weird Food party.)
We ordered some nachos and entrees that showed some sign of Mexican-ness. The nachos were indeed pathetic. I don’t know whether anyone in Mexico eats nachos, but in the US, nachos involve plenty of melted cheese and usually a huge mass of other things. At least, that’s what I’m used to. If it doesn’t have a meal’s worth of stuff on top, it doesn’t meet my criteria, although I realize that you can also get skimpy nachos with just cheese and jalapenos. These chips had driblets of melted cheese and were presented with an alleged salsa that appeared to be ketchup with lots of sugar added. We were not impressed.
Our entrees were not, to my mind, very Mexican, but at least they were edible. Kelly’s salsa appeared to be something more akin to a Vietnamese dipping sauce, but he said his meal was not bad. It was alleged to be a flautas plate but appeared more akin to egg rolls. I wasn’t sure whether my “burritos” or those served at the American University cafeteria during my days in Washington were less clear on the concept of burrito-ness. In both cases, the result tasted okay, if not very authentic, but was cut in half and had gooey stuff on the outside instead of inside. Nathan and I agreed that the whole idea of a burrito is that you are supposed to be able to hold it in your hand while you eat, and cutting it in half is just ridiculous.
We weren’t sure who this restaurant was intended for, tourists or adventurous Czechs. Perhaps both. We meant to take some pictures of the décor and exterior for the blog, but forgot. Just think of the largest, gaudiest Mexican restaurant you’ve ever seen and substitute American pop music for the guitars and accordions.