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Friday, July 9, 2010

Requiem for the Perfect Chips

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Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine.
Robert C. Gallagher

I’m in mourning today.

Ok maybe mourning is too strong a word, but I am kind of bummed.

My favorite Mexican restaurant is a little mom and pop place at the mouth of Provo Canyon called Mama Chu’s. My longtime friend from high school, John, introduced me to Mama Chu’s and JP knows his restaurants. I myself am not a sophisticated enough traveler to comment intelligently about whether or not an ethnic restaurant is truly “authentic.” I mean how do I know if sushi from Osaka restaurant in Provo can hold a chopstick to sushi in actual Osaka, Japan? And having never been to Kentucky, I’m just trusting that Kentucky Fried Chicken really is. But according to the more well traveled palates in my circle of friends, Mama Chu’s is a really authentic Mexican restaurant - but even if it wasn’t I’d still like it. I like the chicken tacos, and chicken chimichanga, and the chicken (or steak) fajitas and I really like the rice and beans. But by far my favorite menu item at Mama Chu’s are the tortilla chips they bring out right when you sit down. They are usually warm and come with salsa (of course) and they are the toastiest, crispiest, crunchiest, corniest tortilla chips that I have ever had….and I lived in Arizona for a number of years. Even Ebay likes them - and he doesn’t like anything. They are almost flakey, I don’t really know how they do that but you don’t get any of those almost too tough to chew greasy kind of chips that you get at most Mexican restaurants.

But last night Ebay, Z and I took a trip to Mama Chu’s in anticipation of the marvelous chips. We’re always excited when they bring them – truly - we like them that much (well, Ebay and I do - I can't really speak for Z on the question of chips)! They brought the chips and we dug in. But after only a few crunches we noticed that these were imposter chips. These weren’t the wonderful crispy creations of Mama Chu’s. These were regular, greasy, kind of tough ever-so-average-chips that you can get just anywhere? How can this be? When the waitress came back around we wailed that “these aren’t the usual chips!” She confirmed that indeed they were different because they supplier they had used in the past no longer made the marvelous chips.

No longer made them?!! How can you stop making manna when you obviously got the recipe directly from heaven?

First of all it was kind of disappointing to learn that Mama Chu's even had a "supplier." Wasn't Mama Chu herself making everything from scratch just behind the swinging doors? But ok, so there was a supplier. Was the chip supplier yet another small business brought to its’ knees by corporate greed and the national economic downturn? Was there a death in the family -an ancient Mexican grandmother who knew special chip making secrets and sadly took the recipe to her grave? Or, I hate to be cynical about my favorite dive, but could it be that Mama Chu’s was just stiffing us with cheaper chips?

We didn’t get any answers.

We stared dejectedly at the imposter chips.

Oh we ate the imposter chips – don’t be ridiculous. But I think it was obvious in the way we ate them that it was a gesture of protest.


Sue said...

Sorry you had to settle for imposter chips. It's just not right!


Anonymous said...

Ha! Yes. I'm sure it was clear that it was a protest. Hey, can I get in on your next protest? Especially if it's a protest at the cheesecake factory.

Chrissy said...

did u snarl as u chomped down on them? i can imagine the disappointedness...believe me...(is disappointedness a word??)

Teachinfourth said...

I know that I am no longer excited to go back there again. We should just go to Taco Bell from now on...

Shannon said...

There is a place like this in downtown Tucson that my husband frequents (on the mornings he doesn't get breakfast at home, one can be sure he'll be at Alejandros after the morning meeting at work). Their food is adequate, nothing over the top...but those chips...oh man. Like you, I have the mental image of Abuelita Alejandro in the kitchen slaving over a bubbling fryer of triangular corn treasure...but now? Now I have to wonder!!

Lori said...

Eh. Blech. Hate it when that happens. Keep complaining. I did that when a restaurant switched from "real" sweet tea to that Nestea crup and eventually they switched back. I'm not saying it's because I complained. I'm just saying.

angelique said...

Love their chicken chimis. And I've also been told by 'those that know,' Mama Chu's IS "the best" in the West. Thanks for the warning regarding the chips. I don't like the way I act in public when I'm surprised and disappointed AND it involves food. Sure hope they don't mess with the chimis!
p.s. Let's have our "family tree" discussion here. Hopefully their supplier resurrects the chips by then!

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