Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sunny with a chance of quesadillas

The Loch Ness Monster of Echo Park Lake does not have a long, scaly neck or a coiling, curlicued body.  She doesn't have green skin or big teeth.  Her feet are (probably) not webbed, and she certainly doesn't have claws.  She looks absolutely nothing like a dinosaur or a dragon.

And she's really damn good at making blue corn quesadillas.

I fondly dub the sweet, totally un-monster-like proprietress of the Oaxacan Quesadilla Cart 'Nessie' because she only appears when I'm not looking for her.

Want to brag to your friends that the best quesadillas on earth are made in your neighborhood, then take them down the street to prove it?  Too bad.  She's nowhere to be found.

But are you speeding down the street, late somewhere, with no quarters for meter parking?  Or did you just eat a huge lunch?  Perhaps you're on a jog or a bike ride and you didn't bring your wallet?  Then there she is, under her big rainbow umbrella, cheerfully patting her ovals of soft masa dough barehanded, like she doesn't have any nerve endings in her fingers.

I've had many permutations of the charred, oozing blue semicircles and can confidently say that the huitlacoche (corn fungus) is the best, its half-mushroom half-onion texture squishing satisfyingly within its cage.  I pry the edges of the quesadilla open, its flaps giving only slightly less than soft taco shells, and dump in onions, nopales, and cilantro, cotija, and, if I'm smart, I remember to put the sauce on the inside so as not to make everything soggy.

Usually, I am not smart.  The salsas on offer are so brain-scramblingly spicy that merely being in their presence must make me forget.  The green is an everyday lip burner, but the red, oh, the red.  You don't know whether you're choking or breathing.

The first time I dumped an ungodly amount of salsa over my quesadilla can perhaps be chalked up to a combination of adventurousness and ignorance, but every subsequent time can only be called stupidity.  Or maybe not.  I never regret doing it, for the flavor behind the pain is so worth it, and though I wince all the way home and every breath of air I puff climbing the hill burns, I still reliably over-salsa my plate every time I return.

Which is often, though accidentally every time.  I have never set out with the intention of eating a quesadilla.  But I have also never walked by her stand without stopping.


  1. Lol, love the title of this post!

  2. In all seriousness - this lady's unreliable little cart is magical. If she leaves my neighborhood, I'll cry.