New Nostalgia: New Mexico
There is always a place that feels like home. It might not be where you grew up, but we all have places that are familiar, that we feel a sense of happiness returning to. These are the type of places where you have your favorite restaurants, your favorite shops, and your favorite views. Good things happened there, sometimes not so good things too, but it is your place.
New Mexico is like that for me. No matter where I happen to be in the world, I think I will always have to return there for a deep breath of fresh, piñon-scented air. I crave the desert and the inspiration it gives me. I crave the chile and the very special New Mexican food. I crave the influence of art, culture, and space from our local Native American and Mexican population.
Most everyone has a place like this. The amazing things about these types of places is that while they stay exactly the same in your memories, they are changing in reality. While these changes might freak us out a little bit (or a lot!), they provide amazing opportunities to also try new things in your familiar space. Nostalgia 2.0 - Same same, but different. Create new memories and enhance your old ones. So go visit YOUR place and try both old and new. Come on, you know you want to.
The Shed, Santa Fe
Red, Green, or Christmas? This is a question every New Mexican knows. What type of chile do you want? Or, go nuts and have both. Now I am very, very specific about my favorite New Mexican food places. No one can touch them. You go to Monroe’s for stuffed sopapillas (fried pillows of bread) and tacos. They still feel like your “local” with amazingly friendly owners and staff. You go to Sadie’s for the queso, and the excellent margaritas. El Pinto is for the patio, and because it’s El Pinto. You go to The Shed because they have the best chile anywhere, and also awesome margaritas. Plus, they serve garlic bread with their dishes, and it's like making love on a Sunday afternoon with the chile. Hello, Santa Fe Plaza! Tomasita’s (also known as Toma’s to those who are cool) because it’s by the rail tracks in Santa Fe, and they have to die for burritos. Maria’s Kitchen, also in Santa Fe, for the tequila and margaritas. They have a 4-page menu for just that. Now don’t say you don’t like tequila. It is kind of like wine…there are tons of different types, flavors, and Jose Cuervo doesn’t even count as piss comparatively. I don’t care if you got sick on tequila in university days. This is different. Be bold and try the flight. You might just like it. If not, you will feel too happy to mind.
I need a whole other post for the epic glory that is the green chile cheeseburger, so until next time…
Now, a new addition to the list, my Nostalgia 2.0, Tia Betty Blues. The best place for brunch, next to Tia Sophia’s. It is a little diner-type of New Mexican glory. Try the Heuvos Benitos (basically the NM version of Eggs Benedict) and the Blue Corn Sweet Waffles. Try everything. Your stomach will die of happiness.
WARNING: All of the above mentioned places tend to have very spicy chile. If you don’t like heat, perhaps we cannot be friends or should never meet. That said, if unsure, just ask for the chile on the side, or to have less on there. The locals might spit on you. No, just kidding (but they really might, so say it very softly). No, I’m really just kidding. Maybe.
There is just something about the fall in my home state. Number one, it’s when the grand day of my birthday comes to pass. Yay! Number two, it’s when the air turns crisp, the leaves change, and a special sort of magic fills the air. It is also time for the State Fair, and the world famous, biggest anywhere Balloon Fiesta. Imagine wandering through hundreds of hot air balloons on the ground, then feeling the elation as they start to lift into the sky around you. You see them floating around the horizon through sunrise and into the morning. Plus, this is all accompanied by greasy, delicious funnel cake and a million other naughty treats you can buy on the balloon grounds.
The downside is you have to get up at dawn-o-crazy-clock in the morning for mass ascensions, which to be honest, isn’t the easiest for us non-morning people on our days off. It is worth it, though. I promise! It is one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had. It was a family tradition to always go to at least one morning a year. Because it was around my birthday, I almost always got to have funnel cake and doughnuts for breakfast. For a child, this was like crack.
This year, I realized that somehow I had never been the Special Shapes Glowdeo that happen in the evening. You guessed it…your not normally shaped balloons glowing around you as the sun sets. Hello! Nostalgia 2.0. I was resolved to change this oversight. Sadly, the night I went, it was too windy to get most of the balloons up. Hey, it happens. It was still magical, dammit. And, I got my burger and funnel cake!
Weirdly, being at the balloon fiesta you feel a part of something grand. You are around a generally very happy, nice crowd, all watching something very special. Something that will always be different every time you watch, something unique. It is a theatrical spectacle of humanity marveling at one of the things that has always fascinated us: flying. There is a beauty in endeavor. There is also a beauty in turning endeavor into something of a spectacle to be dreamed of and marveled by so many.
The point is - go visit your happy place of nostalgia. Treat yourself to your old fav's and promise yourself to try something new. It will give your experience, and your "home" a new dimension.