Return to Spicy

by Matthew Roberts

The adjustment of coming back from Italy actually hasn’t been too rough so far. No in-your-face instances of overt culture shock, no sudden disgust at something I didn’t remember about Texas. It seems that my hypothesis, that having already had to adjust to moving to Oregon for school helped prepare me for the culture shock of study abroad, is holding true to a large degree. Most of the “shock”/frustration I’m dealing with isn’t unique to coming back from Italy, but just something I deal with coming home every summer. 

Things like “oh, we live in the middle of nowhere so it’s actually an effort to go to the store”, or “oh, right there’s barely an acceptable level of internet, let alone you actually want to download media of any kind! (HA!)” And the restlessness that comes from sitting around the house all day, trying to do something while ignoring the layers upon layers of stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. Which lead to ungodly amounts of time taken up driving whenever one wants to reach civilization. Or general Texas things such as the relatively conservative sense of the culture when one’s not in the cities, etc. 

What has changed on my return though, is I’ve come to crave spicy food. All the time. And have had an accompanying awakening regarding Tex-Mex/Mexican food of various kinds. Used to be that the range of what I’d consume lied within the area of, say, burritos, quesadillas, simple tacos, chimichangas. Relatively white-bread-ified versions of Mexican/Tex-Mex foods. Now, I’ve started eating things with more spice and a little less white-bread-ness (if only a little more). Mole con pollo, migas (MIGAS! Can’t believe I’d never had Migas before, say, a year ago! Especially with my love of all things breakfast), tacos al pastor. Need to expand a little more than that too, into spicier things…. Should find out where there’s some good dive-y Mexican near my house..

I think some of this dive towards spicier foods is a 180 after the months in Italy, where they don’t really make things spicy. Creamy, rich, meaty, flavored with various herbs, yes. Spicy peppers, no. I used to hate jalapenos, for the weird fruity flavor they can have, now I love them because of how nice it is to have some heat in my food. Mmm. It could be hard to go back to Oregon and keep this up. I guess I’ll just have to look a little harder than I have before for good, spicy Mexican food.