Monday, February 16, 2015

Dinner at the PoopooCaca

Dinner out with my friend Laura all too often involves some sort of Adventure.

We've seen all kinds of food fun, from being physically assaulted by a waiter to being forced into an Iron Chef situation where Laura made a dinner for 6 based around a unique Mystery Ingredient:

A entire jar of extremely questionable pickled eggs bought, jar and all, from a seedy pub in rural Wiltshire, England.

But our all-time oddity was Friday night at the Poopoocaca restaurant. I chose the machaca, which is scrambled eggs with rice and beans and toast. 

No problem, right? Laura ordered the beef fajita salad, with mixed vegetables and a jalapeno-lime dressing. Again, not a Herculean task of culinary cunning.

I got my machaca, but it was completely covered in perhaps two cups of fresh, raw, sliced jalapenos - a RIVETING addition that probably should have made it into the menu. And no toast currently visible.

Machaca - put the Jalapeno pic over this one,
and you'll get the idea.
My bemusement was completely swallowed up however by the simple tableau now placed before Laura. Beef fajita salad with mixed vegetables and jalapeno-lime dressing, right? 

Nope. Not even close. Not even if you put it across the room and squinted real hard.

She got three Sizzlean-reject strips of beef, worthy only of becoming a future Slim-Jim 3-Pak, or the sole of a Birkenstock. Beneath that was a thin veneer of iceberg lettuce supported by no less than three hearts of lettuce, each one harder and more discolored than the last. Finally the whole thing was awash in about two cups of soy sauce.

Our eyes rose and met. We blinked at each other. Shoe leather, lettuce hearts and straight Kikkoman soy sauce? Huh? 

Slowly we looked around the Poopoocaca. 
  • It was Friday night, dinner hour downtown and we were one of only three booths occupied.
  • Our hostess was still talking on her cell phone. (When we entered she had waved vaguely in the direction of the dining room behind her and didn't miss a beat.)
  • The manager was in the corner, facing away from us on her knees, untangling the Christmas lights.
  • An ideal Beef Fajita Salad.
  • Our waitress had apparently caught the Greyhound bus down the street and was currently headed out of state.
We waited for the spin cut to Rod Serling. No such luck. So I walked over to the hostess station and lifted a menu, startling the hostess into - almost - pausing in her conversation. We consulted this ultimate, impartial authority. Yep: Beef fajita salad with mixed vegetables and a jalapeno-lime dressing: Plain as day. Sounded good too.

We surveyed the translation of this: dark ocean of soy sauce, island of pale green lettuce, dark brown Roman numeral III of once-was-meat tanning on the shores of iceberg isle. The "mixed vegetables" were being mixed in another dimension, apparently. It couldn't be the same item.

We waited for our waitress, but she was apparently passing through Reno on the bus by then. The manager was still fiddling with the Christmas lights and was deaf to our entreaties. 

We flagged a busboy and explained how lost we were in our meal. He too consulted the menu, glancing back and forth, scowling as he attempted to force the round plate of evidence into the square description in print.

Laura and me, 1996, Kennet & Avon Canal, Wiltshire England.
She is taking a turn piloting our 70ft. canal barge.
He finally disappeared into the back and after some minutes returned with dry toast for me, and a hopeful smile for both of us. We were grateful but still stubbornly unsatisfied. 

We explained our predicament again, using as evidence the water glass of soy sauce that Laura had drained from her platter. He listened intently, nodded, and vanished into the back again.

We waited, trying to find any part of my machaca that had not been rendered radioactive from the handfuls of jalapenos. 

Calendar pages flew off the wall, seasons turned, Italian governments rose and fell, and then, surprise-surprise! Who appears - but our waitress! Back from Yosemite and holding aloft a cup of the legendary jalapeno-lime dressing! Huzzah!

I broke into the general reverie to inquire as to butter for the cold toast and also the whereabouts of our promised beverages. Our waitress frowned sadly, disappeared into the back, and was never seen again.

Our smiles of amusement faded into grimaces of incomprehension though as we looked into this newest item. Jalapeno-lime dressing? Noper! Staring resolutely back at us was a cup of ice cold sour cream with a few olives tossed on top.

We poked at it. We tasted it. We ran phonics drills on each other to see if we were speaking a coherent language. We were left with no footholds from which to gain some perspective on the understanding of this meal.

Our dinner had left the Twilight Zone and was now passing Through the Looking Glass. I crafted a cabana roof out of a folded napkin and placed it over the roman numeral 3 of beef-bacon. On it Laura wrote "This is inedible".

We fled, glancing at the hostess on our left - now buffing her nails but still yakking away, and the manager on our right – still cowering amidst the Christmas lights.

And, not surprisingly, the Poopoocaca itself folded not long after, proving that Darwin's theories are applicable in a wide variety of situations.

Angus McMahan

No, the name of the place was NOT the "PoopooCaca", but I'm not gonna kick a restaurant when its dead and gone.

Pics from:,,, and the authors collection. 

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