January 31, 2008

The midwest feast comes to Palapa Joe's - meat loaf

PALAPA JOE'S RESTAURANT, La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico - A couple of nights ago I got a 911 call from Admiral Fox, perched on a bar stool at Palapa Joe's next to local bon vivant Jane 'I-Don't-Do-Real-Estate' Gorby, who said that it was 'meat loaf' night at the restaurant, the first in many months.

I was right in the middle of making plans to go with amiga Tia, her daughter Macy, and a contingent of parents and kids to release some baby turtles out in the surf, plans I abandoned in favor of meat loaf, mashed potatoes and Cuba Libres. (It turned out the turtle expedition was moved to another night anyway. These ethical choices are murder.)

Meat loaf isn't exactly the fare people associate with this small Mexican pueblo - exactly why it is such a hit when it makes it to the menu. Kimberly, co-owner of the restaurant with her husband Willy, had the meat to make a meat loaf in her freezer and decided to bring it out (and cook it up fresh) when she heard me in the Santana Real Estate office the day before, wistfully mentioning that I missed the meat loaf prepared by Corti Brothers in Sacramento, a fairly regular item on the FitzFox menu when we are in that zip code.

meat loaf and potatoes
A feast of taste, and of calories beyond counting

My first encounter with meat loaf - waaaaay too many years ago to admit here - was when my college girlfriend fixed one for us, but misread the recipe and instead of using bread crumbs in the mix, used regular bread. The bread soaked up every drop of grease from the ground beef, making it arguably the heaviest meat loaf ever baked in a small pan. It was delicious, but I still remember the weight in my stomach for about two days.

The words meat loaf also always bring back my first drive into the city of Napa in California, after coming from Jamestown, New York in a blue VW van.

Cruising down Jefferson Boulevard, I saw a big sign in a window of a shop that said:

Meat Loaf - $3.99
Hot Tuna - $4.99

We turned in, hungry, only to see that we were in front of the Jefferson Boulevard Music Store, where, indeed, they were selling Meat Loaf and Hot Tuna.

Meat Loaf - the singer
Meat Loaf

Hot Tuna
Hot Tuna

At Palapa Joe's this week, there was no mistaking it was meat loaf, the food, and the music was lovely Spanish tunes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HAHA. just experienced laughter similar to your "carlos-induced spitting-coffee-on-the-monitor" moments