Monday, August 9, 2010

late summer in Tucson--in and out of Outside: 
from trails for bikes to 'Tostitos preparados'... and out of Outside magazine, that is--this month's issue names Tucson 'best town in America' for road-biking...Yes, this is indeed a desert metropololis full of velophiles and bike-lanes, surrounded by miles of Sonoran desert and mountain terrain, trails, etc. etc... (Runner-up town?--Boulder, Colorado.)  

This morning--my last 'Monday of Freedom,' since students return to classrooms a week from today--I went for a bike ride along the Rillito--the seasonal river that cuts across the Tucson basin from east to west. Most of the length of the river has been developed into parks and trails--part of what makes Tucson one of Outside magazine's 'best towns:'
(for more info on Rillito Park, click here)

================================================ much for what's in this month's Outside magazine.

Now, for something decidedly out of that publication: tostitos preparados.
Yes, 'tostitos' as in the brand-name corn-tortilla-chip. It's a Mexican street-food classic, but you won't find it at any Taco Bell near you...

Yesterday, S. and I were introduced to this snack experience by a couple of amigas mexicanas...We'd heard about this concoction (definitely only a 'sometime-food,' since it's pretty far to the 'junk'-side on the junk-food-scale) but had never seen or tasted it.

In the photo below--look to the lower left of the chalk-board-menu:
See it?--'TOSTITOS' and then, in the diminutive 'preparaditos'...

(The hole-in-the-wall joint was a classic example of how you can be in one city/country, and then go through  some doors and be instantly transported to a different world...S. and I immediately felt like we were back in Central America...could've been a raspadería in Nicaragua--the concrete-walled establishment didn't have the a/c running, all of the conversations were in Spanish...)

So--'what is it?' you ask...
Behold--in all of its still-in-the-bag-glory:

Sí, sí, mis amigos--you just take a bag of the chips--cut the side off, then top and fill with a mixture of melted nacho-cheese-sauce, diced cucumber, diced carrot, diced tomato, sliced jalapeños...and if you want, you can add peanuts, or 'chamoy', even shredded cabbage (!)...and it's served and eaten messily right out of the bag, preferably with one's fingers...As there were four of us sharing, we asked for plates and forks:

Wanna try?
Come on down...


With the recent monsoon-rains, the mountains around the city are becoming carpeted in green--normally, the color reserved for the forested peaks, but now even the lower slopes are almost verdant...

(yesterday evening--looking up at Finger Rock in the Santa Catalinas, from La Encantada having a camera on the cell-phone...and below, a view of downtown Tucson--I was running errands, and noticed that the view from the parking garage was kind of nice--actually made Tucson's small cluster of 'high'-rises look 'urban'...and I do love the multicolor-tiled dome of the Pima County Courthouse, built in the 1920's...)


  1. Hi, J, my name is Tatiana and I just moved to Tucson from Miami, FL. I was born in Nicaragua and love nicaraguan. I've been trying to locate a place where I can have some gallo pinto, carne asada, you know the typical stuff. Are there any such places in town? Thanks in advance for your reponse. I can be reached at tcmarquez@hotmail.come
    It was great to read you had lived in Nicaragua. Hope you enjoyed it!

  2. Pues, hola, Tatiana de Nicaragua! Glad you found our blog! As for finding la comida pinolera here in the Old Pueblo--you'd have to be invited to someone's house, I think; so far we have found no Nicaraguan restaurants in southern Arizona...maybe up in Phoenix? Thankfully gallo pinto is easy to make...Va pue'!!