In Mexico there is no Cheez Whiz
By Mort Poisson

Goddamn it, I was hungry...but I couldn't get anywhere near a good restaurant. It was a sunny, cold Sunday afternoon in early November, and your's truly was making an attempt to avoid fines by actually returning a stack of books to the library on time for a change. For the curious, I have been indulging my continuing fascination with the conception and implementation of fascism in the modern world, thus, my hefty bag of reading materials included "Mein Kampf" by Adolph Hitler and "Treason" by Ann Coulter. I thought those made for a particularly insightful pair. In fact, I think old Adolph did the ghostwriting for dear Ann (just replace the term "liberal" with "Jew" and you'll see how closely the text reads!). Ah, well...paranoid, mustachiaoed, vegetarian, genocidal demon and anorexic, coke-frazzled, chainsmoking, blonde hypocrite (with a man's Adam's apple)...what's the dif? (Should have thrown the latest from Bill O'Reilly into the mix--Doc)

But I digress.

My attempts to navigate the downtown streets of our fair (to middling) city were proving fruitless, as I found nearly every major (and minor) thoroughfare blocked and guarded by police officers. "Has it finally happened?" I thought. "Is our country finally under martial law?" I relaxed a bit when I realized that my bagful of Hitler and Coulter tomes would more than likely keep me out of the wire pen, at least temporarily.

"What the hell is going on?" I wondered as I crossed the river a second time in a futile stab at getting to the library. My intention was to quickly dropoff the diseased volumes and head down South Main street to have a pleasant lunch at one of that corridor's fine Mexican eating establishments. This was getting frustrating. I was sitting impatiently at one intersection, when a large cop strolled into the street with his hand in the air. As he held the traffic at bay, I noticed a half dozen huffing and puffing runners trudging up the the middle of State Street.

This again? I should have figured. Not two months earlier I was caught up in the same rat maze of closed streets and frustrated motorists, as another foot race tied up traffic. I don't get it, dear readers. What is the reasoning behind turning Rockford into a jogger's paradise? Do we or do we not live in a city surrounded by hundreds (thousands?) of miles of open country roads that could be more efficiently utilized for such a competition? Are the city's "powers-that-be" delusional enough to believe that Rockford is in line for a future Olympic competition? And do they really believe we could beat out, say, Sandusky, Ohio for such an honor? Most irritatingly, I pondered the cost to the city for putting on such an event. Let me understand the priorities here: our children can't get anything resembling a decent education, but the city has money to flush away protecting a bunch of dinks who want to run around in the cold in their long johns?

But I digress.

The subject at hand, loyal patrons, is Mexican food.

I'm sure you have noticed the explosion in the number of restaurants in the Rockford area serving Mexican cuisine. This, I think, is, by and large, a good thing (although I would gladly sacrifice one or two of the 3000 new Mexican eataries for one good African, Middle Eastern or Caribbean restaurant. Or how about- what a novel idea- a good Jewish deli?).

Now, the income of your average struggling epicure being what it is (and given the thrifty nature of the Wormwood Chronicles), your humble reporter has been precluded from sampling the fare at all, or even half, of the new Mexican restaurants in town. I'm sure there are good ones (as well as many bad). (Oh, now you're blaming the mag that provides an outlet for your vituperative rants!--Slavedriver Mality) What I can address is the excellent eateries that go undeservedly ignored by much of the non-Latino population of our city, while pre-fab chain restaurants and those locals catering to gringo tastes enjoy overflowing parking lots, and long lines of diners.

Let us begin with a question, dear readers...


I see you out there, sneaking into Don Pablo's, Tumbleweeds or (God help your trembling head) Diamond Dave's . Some of you don't even have the common decency to sneak...you waltz in, chest puffed out like Kissinger strolling into the Pump Room, and act like you posses a sophisticated palate because you once ate a piece of sushi without puking. Understand this, reader: in my many trips south of the border (never mind what for), I never once ordered a meal and was, in turn, presented with a plate of Cheez Whiz. Yet that's what you seem to want, and that's what you get when you patronize these soulless corporate criminals passing themselves off as ethnic chefs. I would rather eat what the Al Vapor taco truck leaves behind on the ground than face another glorified gas station burrito at Diamond Dave's, an establishment where their idea of picante sauce is tomato juice laced with black pepper. These plastic dives serve food that bears as much resemblence to real Mexican cuisine as I do to a nubile Eurasian swimsuit model.

Don't you realize that God doesn't want you to eat fake Mexican food? Why do you think there have been so many Chi-Chi's diners folded over with gut cramps and diarreha lately? God is mad at them!

As I said before, there are many fine locally (often family) owned Mexican restaurants in town. The trouble, as many in the lily white community see it, is that a number of these fine restaurants are in what they consider "marginally dangerous" neighborhoods. Hogwash! I can't tell you how many times I've wandered down South Main Street of an evening-admittedly quite often after hours of imbibing-in search of a plate of homemade enchiladas or a bubbling hot bowl of menudo. Never has anyone wearing bandoliers and pearl handled revolvers ordered me to empty my pockets. Never have I been met with a knife in the ribs, or been shot at with automatic weapons by a passing low rider. In fact, it has been statistically proven that I am more likely to be mugged in the parking lot at Cherryvale Mall than anywhere in the Latino neighborhoods of this city. What I see is a community going about it's business, and what I eat when I sit down at a table in one of my two favorite Rockford Mexican restaurants- Gudalajara and Taco Loco (both on the same block, coincidentally)- is freshly made food prepared by real people with care and enthusiasm. While Taco Loco is my favorite late night eatery (the tacos, soups, and generous bowl of menudo is especially satisfying), Guadalajara features some of the dishes in this city I most highly recommend. To begin, you simply must try their fresh, delicious made-to-order guacamole, quite possibly the best I've ever had north of the border. My choices for entree's include the Costillas en Chile Verde (pork riblets in green sauce), Lomo de Res (chopped ribeye in chile de arbol, and hot enough to peel your scalp back!), Guisado de Puerco (pork loin in a luscious red sauce) and El Mariachi Fortachon (Shrimp, ham, bacon and steak simmered with onions and green peppers). For taco lovers, their Tacos Sandia (steak with grilled hot peppers and onions) can't be beat. Also, give their Cocktail de Camaron Estilo Jalisco (warm, spicy shrimp cocktail) a try.

Take that Tumbleweeds, you microwave dependent shit hole!

There are any number of other fine Mexican restaurants that I have tried in town, including El Reboso, Mi Ranchita, El Jalisco, Serrano's bar (with their enormous burrito..and cheaper than Mexico!). I've also eaten at two of the most popular local Mexican spots, both of which cater to a more Americanized taste, and both of which I found lacking. I've had a few good (if rather bland) meals at Alvarez, but have also run into drastic inconsistencies (I refuse to eat at the Riverside location after one particularly dreadful experience, though the Bell School Road restaurant has delivered with a very good pork soup and, hands down, the coldest beer in town). Dos Reales is another matter. Full of families with screaming kids (I'd rather eat with pigs) on both occasions I have visited, the environment is nerve-wracking, while it is nearly impossible to determine what dish you are eating since everything they seem to serve is overloaded with globs of melted cheese.

At least its not Cheese Whiz...which is a small step in the right direction.

Until next time....don't choke!

(To add my own two centavos, I'd recommend Burrito Loco on the corner of Rockton and Main, triumphantly located at the site of a defunct Arby's...not fancy, but excellent nonetheless. At all costs, avoid Gilberto's downtown, which used a microwave to warm up my cold burrito when I was there. The same can be said for the new Chipotle Grill, which is so authentic that it's run by McDonald's--Epicurean Mality)