by: Anna Frost
The food we make, or don’t make, when we are tired says a lot about us – specifically our upbringing and what we find comfort in. Whether it is an exhaustion of the mind, body or soul, the foods we automatically reach for map out our past, the flavors that made us feel at home, and probably also what is easily available at that moment.
For me, it is some variation of Mexican food, usually involving a significant amount of melted cheese. Growing up in San Diego meant a plethora of taco shops and Mexican restaurants, as well as stores with shelves stuffed full of fresh corn and flour tortillas. It also meant that quick meals made throughout my childhood were usually in the form of a quesadilla or a burrito, and so my knee-jerk reaction is to grate cheese over meat and vegetables and wrap or fold it up into a tortilla. During the busier parts of my semesters at school, the employees at the local taco shop give me a knowing look as I arrive at the drive-thru window multiple times in a week for carne asada or bean, cheese and rice burritos. I often imagine they are judging me for either my apparent inability to go to the store and buy ingredients, or the appearance that I am on a diet of solely burritos.
Our reactions to the inability to find certain foods outside of our normal environment is also quite telling. I quickly realized that my extreme confusion and dismay at the lack of tortilla options available at grocery stores on the Vineyard, or the east coast in general really, is not shared by others. Apparently southern California is one of the few places where it is normal to find near-authentic tortillas in the average grocery store instead of a plethora of low-carb wraps, which are not the same thing. Though I have lived on the east coast multiple times and never have experienced anything different, I always expect it to be there – I believe this falls under the definition of insanity.
So, weary as I am this evening, I irrationally fried up a cheese quesadilla with a whole wheat wrap, and subsequently experienced mild surprise and dismay when it didn’t turn out as it would have back home. I think it’s safe to assume that my brain’s food craving center is permanently set to Mexican, marking me as a California girl, especially when I’m exhausted.