Friday, November 15, 2013

On Being Back "Home" in the Southwest

I have to admit that while we were back in El Paso, TX for a sad reason (my grandmother's funeral), the trip did have some highlights.

Since I found myself unexpectedly back home in the Southwest, I took advantage of some free time - Saturday afternoon after we'd checked into lodging on Ft. Bliss and most of the day on Sunday - when we'd had nothing planned.

Now, while almost all of Texas' massiveness is within the Central time zone, El Paso, at the westernmost tip, is in the Mountain time zone. So, of course, when we arrived, it was an hour earlier than we're used to in eastern Iowa (Central).

Needless to say, by the time we had arrived in El Paso, gotten our luggage (having been charged $25 per suitcase = $75 total!!), gotten our rental car, and checked into our quarters (on-post lodging, like a hotel, but cheaper than the "good" rates my family had gotten at the hotel near the airport), we were all quite hungry and ready for dinner.

 We'd just gotten off the plane. Liv was happy to be there.

 This is more or less the view we had from the parking lot. I love these mountains.

So, where would we go when in El Paso? Well, we went to a Mexican restaurant that my grandparents used to take me when I was younger. It's a local chain called Leo's. It's actually been a long, long time since I've been there. I think the last time I went, I'd gone with my grandparents ("Oma" and "Sir Rafa"), my uncle Hector, and a few other relatives.

Well, every time I go to this restaurant, I always get the chicken flautas, which are prepared like tacos (beef, chicken, or another filling inside a corn tortilla that's been fried), but instead of the typical "taco" shape, they're rolled up in the shape of flutes (hence the name flautas, which means "flutes" in Spanish). This dish always comes with refried beans and Spanish rice.

However, I was remembering the last time I'd been at this restaurant. My uncle Hector had ordered the chicken with mole sauce (often made with smoked chiles and chocolate). It's a really tasty Mexican dish. I enjoy it (and the last time I was there with my uncle, he'd let me have a bite of his - it was good!). But since we were in El Paso for a somber event, I needed some "comfort" food. What's my comfort food?

Yep, the chicken flautas. I had to get them. I wouldn't have been satisfied if I'd ordered the chicken with mole sauce (however good it may be), because my comfort food in El Paso (if not my grandmother's homemade tacos) has to be flautas

And I was not disappointed. They were delicious; they were as good as I'd remembered. I am still thinking about them. (They looked a lot better than they do in this picture.)

Liv had ordered a kid's special with one beef taco and one enchilada with green chile sauce. Her meal also came with the beans and rice. She devoured it.

 Not the greatest pic, but good enough (the sun had set and the lighting in the restaurant was a bit dim for the iPhone camera).

Andrew? I think he ordered a "create your own combo" with a taco, enchilada, and . . . hmm. Something else I just can't remember.

To top off this delicious meal? Always sopaipillas. They're these delicious pillows of fried dough, puffy and hot, served with honey. You tear off a small corner and pour in a bit of honey and coat the inside of the "pillow." So. Good.

This is a not-so-good pic of the delicious pillows known as sopaipillas. Mmmm. 

After we'd eaten, I'd been chatting with our server. I'd said that my grandparents had taken me to Leo's (I think one of the other locations) numerous times when I was younger. And I always loved the flautas and sopaipillas. We'd laughed when she agreed with me that I probably wouldn't have been satisfied if I'd ordered the chicken with mole, as my "go to" meal was always flautas. And I'd found out that the owner of the car dealership where I'd gotten my vehicle (there in El Paso) was a regular at this restaurant and he always ordered the same thing, every time! (Just like me!)

Anyway, after we'd finished eating, we realized we were all exhausted from traveling and having eaten a filling meal, and the thought of the stress of the days ahead. We immediately went back to on-post lodging, got ready for bed, and settled in for the night.

But before going to sleep, Liv had to do one last thing.

She had to read in bed. (She's borrowing my mini-reading light that clips onto a book.) She and I had gone to the bookstore the day before we'd left. I bought the two of us one book each for the trip. She picked Charlotte's Web.

 In the next day or two, I'll share another exciting adventure we had on this trip back to the Southwest.

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