Friends, when you leave your home to live on foreign soils, you must anticipate a fair number of strange food encounters. Some of them will be highly disappointing, especially if you live in Denmark. Soon you learn that expectations are everything.
Take Tortilla Flats, a Mexican restaurant located in Vejle, a city not far from us. The first time I dined there, I left in anger over their mishandling of the cilantro plant and its various components (seeds vs. leaves). The second time I dined there, I had adjusted my goals for the evening away from having a satisfying Mexican feast, to merely tolerating the food while having a pleasant session of cross table banter with my husband. And it worked! I left the restaurant that night thinking, “well, at least I got to wash my hands with that vaguely phallic bar of soap on a post in the bathroom again. And I like the lamps.” This is how it is done, friends.
And now consider, for a moment, a local restaurant (which shall remain unnamed) in our town of Billund. The first time we ate there, I left with a deep furrow in my brow. “Wtf??? Is this all there is to eat in this wee town of ours?” I lamented silently to myself as my then-4-year-old son took a piss on a planter just outside the front entrance for all to see through the restaurant’s giant picture window, especially the family who was eating their dinner about six inches away from him, separated by a mere 2 centimeters of glass. I was secretly proud of him because every little town needs its rebels, and he was stepping up to serve his community: he would be the new public urinator in this town, which was quite obviously in desperate need of one. Things were just a little too orderly and nice.
The next time we ate there, I noticed the easy, friendly attitude of the wait staff, who seem to be mostly Turkish. I left thinking, “that food was not my favorite but I like those young men. They are very nice, and they speak Danish to me in a way (slowly and clearly, to be specific) that acknowledges my ineptitude at understanding that fucking language.” The third time we ate there I decided that if I couldn’t order something delicious from the menu, I would order something for reasons not culinary. I thought it would be funny in an ironic sort of way to order the Mexican pizza (“the Amigo”) from a restaurant owned and managed by Turkish people in rural Denmark. AND DO YOU KNOW HOW THIS STORY ENDS? I liked it!!! It was spicy and saucy and cheesy in a rather pleasing sort of way. And now I order the Amigo every time we eat out at that restaurant. The bonus is that it makes my husband sick, so I get the whole thing to myself. I have also been inspired by aspects of the Amigo in my homemade pizza making endeavors.
And now you ask me, feigning casualness, “Is there a point to this little trifle of a story?”
Why yes. Yes, there is. And it is this:
This is how we move forward, away from despair. We find an Amigo and love it for what it is, not what we think it should be. And then our kid makes our lives about fifty times BETTER by pissing on a planter outside, giving us something to chuckle about for the rest of our lives, years later, when we’re simulating the Amigo in our own future kitchen, perhaps back across the ocean, where we started.