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Feb 14th
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Sizzling Hot

dining_TampicosAt Mexican restaurants it is common to hear, and then smell, the fajitas passing by, sputtering and smoking in their cast iron pan. Who invented these meaty morsels may be in dispute, but from humble beginnings the dish has evolved into numerous delicious entrées.

It is said that vaqueros conceived the recipe in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. These Mexican cowboys would be partially paid with less desirable cuts of meat, including skirt steak, or faja which translates as "belt". These tough little belts were tenderized at length in acids such as lime juice, and cooked over a camp fire. In northern Mexico, a similar dish is called arracheras.

Fajitas became a Tex-Mex original in the 1970s. A decade later a German chef introduced "Sizzling Fajitas" at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, and the recipe spread throughout the chain. With such widespread popularity, and just eight pounds of skirt steak per animal, other marinated meats were added to the skillet.

Last week I enjoyed lunch at Tampico Kitchen and Lounge. My grandparents introduced me to Tampico as a teenager, and I would later bring college friends to what was then a tiny, dark room. Today, colorful murals grace the walls in both the restaurant and lounge.

Scanning the menu, I hoped the Chicken Fajita Tostada ($10.95) would make a light, nutritious lunch. Served on a large oval platter, the tender, steaming, grill-marked chicken strips were arranged on the slopes of a large hill of romaine lettuce, topped with chunky guacamole made with tomatoes, and pico de gallo with crunchy white onions. Freshly sliced mushrooms, red bells, strips of crisp jicama, and diced oranges were lightly dressed with vinaigrette. As I dug farther down, black beans, cheese and a blue corn tortilla added even more tasty substance.


Tampico Kitchen and Lounge, 822 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 458-0234. Full bar. Open weekdays at 11 a.m., weekends at 9 a.m. Serving dinner until 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Visit tampicokitchen.net/

 

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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