So…the other day at lunch time, something strange happened. I was hungry, but having absolutely no cravings for anything specific. I asked my sister for a suggestion, and her response was that since I’m always saying I don’t go to Lorena’s enough and I actually had cash on me, the answer should be obvious. A short time later, I was chatting with Lorena while she made my food. That’s pretty much SOP, but things were a little different today.
First of all, since I wasn’t going to see Lorena in order to satisfy a specific taco craving, I decided to branch out a bit and see what the rest of the menu had to offer. I knew I wanted an asada burrito when I walked up, but at the last moment a tamale on the side was sounding good to me. When asked what options she had available, Lorena told me she had pork and sweet varieties. The look on my face at the idea of a sweet tamale seemed to amuse her, and she explained that they’re a big hit with the kids who come by, and that they usually pair it with a Mexican hot chocolate or a flavored milk. It should be fairly obvious to anyone who’s read pretty much any of my previous entries that I went with the pork. Then she asked me how I wanted my burrito and started listing off potential ingredients, but I ended up telling her to make it however she would make it for herself if she were eating it. After all, how can you get more authentic than that?
The whole time all of this was going on, Lorena was looking at me a little strangely. Eventually she asked where my friend was, and I explained to her that the woman I usually come by with is actually my sister, and that she was still at work. Then she asked if she had seen my sister taking a picture of the shack the last time we were there. Thinking back I recalled that yes, I had asked my sister to get a shot of Lorena’s little building before we headed out. Then Lorena asked if my sister wrote things on the computer. I suddenly realized that she knew about the review I had done. “Actually” I said, “that was me.” I was already wondering how I was going to arrange to get my taco fix from then on, who at work I could bribe to make taco runs for me, when she thanked me for doing the write-up.
It turns out her daughter had called her and asked her if she was aware that there was a review of her eatery up on the internet. The language barrier made things a little fuzzy at times, but as best as I understood she said she appreciated that someone was trying to bring attention to places like hers because so many people seem to have such a narrow perception of Mexican cuisine (I certainly used to). She said her pastor had told her that if she found out who had done the write-up, she should convey his appreciation as well. I was touched by all of this, because one of the reasons I started this thing was to bring attention to places that a lot of people don’t seem to care about, or even know about.
|Sweet tamale from Lorena’s|
During this conversation, she slid a tamale out to me. I was surprised because I had told her I needed my food to go, but then I figured perhaps she was giving it to me to eat while I waited for her to finish up my burrito. I was a little shocked when I unwrapped the corn husk and saw a hot pink tamale inside. I was dubious but I cut it open and was surprised to find that there was no meat anywhere in the thing. I took a bite and realized she had given me one of the sweet ones. I have to admit it was good, not overwhelmingly sweet or dense, but I was also a little disappointed that our earlier conversation seemed to have confused her into giving me the wrong tamale. Eventually she finished assembling my order, thanked me again, and I was on my way.
|Pork tamale and asada burrito|
When I got back to the office and removed the foil covering the plate, the pork tamale I had ordered was indeed right there next to the burrito. For about the fourth time that lunch break, I was shocked. I don’t know if that other tamale was a “thank you” gift or maybe just her way of proving that they weren’t bad since I had seemed unimpressed by the idea. A few people have asked if I thought she might have an ulterior motive, like buttering me up for another review. These are people who obviously have not met Lorena. As I said before, she is nicest, sweetest, most genuinely friendly food service worker I have ever met. I stand by that claim.
|A chunk of very well-seasoned pork|
I admit, the sweet tamale was better than I could have anticipated, but it didn’t in any way stand up to how good the pork tamale was. I don’t know if the intense, spicy marinated pork she uses on her tamales is available in any other form on her menu, but I would certainly buy a burrito full of the stuff.
|The inside of the asada burrito|
The burrito was a surprise too. I still have a tendency to think of burritos as either the simple affairs like from the grocery store freezer section or the monster “everything but the kitchen sink” variety from places like Baja Fresh, so this was an entirely new experience for me. Inside the burrito was rice, chopped asada, cilantro, and sauce. There was a very light sprinkling of corn scattered throughout, and maybe a little lettuce. This was obviously handmade. It was totally, simply comfort food, the kind of thing you could imagine a mother, aunt or grandmother making. There was no cheese, tomato or sour cream to be found, and I didn’t miss it for a second.
Another very good meal from Lorena’s. Everything was great but I sitll think that nine times out of ten I’m just going to get the tacos. As I said, she has the best in town. And as far as Lorena goes, it’s not just myself who loves her. Last month, the local Hispanic women’s association Mujeres Unidas de Idaho honored Lorena with one of four Women of the Year awards. Seriously, how much more encouragement do you need? Go check out the food for yourself!