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A little of this, A little of that.

By Kathy Little

Fri, Aug 16th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists

Uno, dos, etc. Yes, I did take Spanish in high school long before Taco Bell became a restaurant chain. Mrs. Worley, our Spanish teacher, wanted us to learn not only the language but also about the culture of Spain and Mexico. So we had a Spanish party. We learned how to fry tacos, made and broke a pinata, and sampled salsa.

During the fiesta one of our classmates, Steve, refused to try the salsa. Instead, he insisted upon using ketchup. Another classmate, Pam, scornfully referred to him as a “chicken.” Now at that time Minnesota men prided themselves on being “manly.” So Steve quickly chugged half of the ketchup right from the bottle. Shocked, Pam promptly threw up all over her salsa seasoned taco. What’s fiesta without drama?

Mrs, Worley so inspired me to know more about Mexico that I insisted my husband and I help chaperone a Caledonia High School Spanish trip to Mexico. It was our first year of teaching and seemed like a good idea at the time. Eleven juniors, the first year Spanish teacher, a pregnant phy-ed teacher, a new math teacher and my husband and I boarded a plane in Minneapolis and flew to Mexico City blessfully unaware that we were the last choice for chaperones.

The principal had insisted that the new Spanish teacher ask more experienced teachers to chaperone, but they had all refused. When I became a more experienced teacher, I understood completely.

Even though we took precautions with the food and the water, most of us got “Montezuma’s Revenge,” which required extremely near-by bathroom facilities. High school juniors and even colleagues are not fun when they have bad stomach cramps.

Mexico City was beautiful, but we were looking forward to going to Acapulco and to seeing the cliff divers. Three hours later after riding on a broken-down school bus in 98 degree heat (did I mention that the windows didn’t open?), the only thing we were looking forward to was getting off the bus.

The cliff divers were almost as exciting to watch as the bull fighters. Both seemed to have a “death wish” in my opinion. Soon, the Spanish teacher was too busy with a bull fighter to bother to help chaperone. No problem. We had the students to talk Spanish for us. Big Problem. They could barely count to 10 in Spanish, but they knew how to order beer. Really, really big problem for chaperones.

I wanted to keep my teaching job next year. Therefore, I had to keep the kids safe and sober. Chaperones who lose students get fired from their teaching jobs and probably get sued or worse. Teaching in prison had little appeal for me. Maybe chaperones have a “death wish.”

This story has a happy ending. We returned to Caledonia with all 11 students safe and sound. An even happier ending was that the next time my husband and I were asked to chaperone a trip, we regretfully declined.

In the faculty lounge we explained about the exotic foods we had encountered in Mexico: goat meat, goat cheese, chicken pizza, chicken tacos, fish tacos and of course hot, hot salsa. Now these iteams are common in the United States. Those south of the border were one step ahead of us in culinary delights back in the 1970’s.

We continue to fry our own tacos today. My husband loves tacos with hot salsa. Some like it hot; some do not! I am a member of the later group. I see no reason to eat a papper that literally has to be handled with gloves. Any food that causes my mouth to burn, nose to run or eyes to tear and needs to be accompanied by copious amounts of water or beer, doesn’t appeal to me.

I buy mild salsa and my husband adds Tabasco Sauce to it. In April we traveled to New Orleans which is close to Avery Island where the only Tabasco Sauce factory in the world is. I personally can understand why one is enough.

My husband was overjoyed at the factory and company store. We could sample everything Tobasco...even raspberry Tabasco ice cream. Not wanting to be a “chicken,” I sampled some. It tasted OK but later on, I had to drink copious amounts of water.

Since we love tacos and meatballs (Jim prefers Norwegian meatballs, of course), I was delighted to find this recipe. You can serve them with taco sauce or salsa or even tobasco sauce. Just make sure to have copious amounts of beer!

Tiny Taco Meatballs

2 eggs

1 medium onion, finally chopped or 1 tsp. onion pwd.

1 envelope taco seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 lbs ground beef

In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place meatballs on a greased rack in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 14-18 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Serve on toothpics or in scoop corn chips. Ole!

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