HORSE’S MOUTH: What? New York Has Best Mexican Eatery?

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

As I frequently mention, Sunday is the toughest day for me to pound out my column. The only favorable thing is that my email continues to pour in from readers, providing me with ideas I can use.

Of course, I try not to overuse emails as a source of column material, but most of them kind of stimulate my mind. And in this day and age, especially age, I can always use ideas suggested by readers.

Here is one that kind of opened my mind. Reader Ray wrote:

“Hey, Horse, from time to time you mention how long you’ve been writing for The Rafu after you left The Kashu Mainichi.

“I can’t believe I’ve been reading your stuff for 25 years but you claimed in a recent column that you will be starting your 25th year since you joined The Rafu, and since I used to read your column in The Kashu, I guess I’ve been fan for more than 25 years. Hard to believe.”

Thanks, Ray. Now that you mention it, I find it kind of hard to believe I’ve been pounding out two columns a week for a quarter of a century.

So, let’s do some math to find out how much I have written since joining The Rafu.

If I were writing a novel, my two columns a week would fill about eight pages, so in 52 weeks, one year, I could fill one 350-page novel, which means in 25 years, I could produce 25 books.

Is that possible?

Of course, during a year of writing two columns a week, I do repeat myself a number of times on certain issues. If I were writing a book, I couldn’t do that.

Oh well, just a thought on Sunday.

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As everyone who knows me knows, I’m a cigar fan. That is, I like to chew on a stogie, not necessarily light it up.

I wasn’t always like that. When I first got hooked on cigars, I used to light up. However, in recent times, so many people tell me, “I hope you aren’t going to light that smelly thing,” that I have decided not to, which means I save money.

I can chew a cigar for a couple of days before I toss it away. When I used to light up, I would go through two cigars a day, minimum.

In terms of money saved, it’s very meaningful just to chew instead of smoke. Yeah, the cigars I buy are expensive, about $2 each.

So, speaking mathematically, you can see how much I can save by chewing and not smoking.

I know, like my wife tells me, “Why don’t you quit chewing as well as not lighting up?”

I am considering taking her advice.

Heck, what’s the use of ordering cigars just to chew on them? I might as well switch to chewing gum. A pack of chewing gum won’t cost me two bucks.

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Just saw an ad where a hamburger joint is giving away free burgers, so excuse me if I pause in my writing and go to the place, which is only four blocks from our house.

Will write about my reaction to the burger. I’m usually a McDonald’s customer, so I’ll make a comment on the new burger joint.

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Well, I’m back and consumed two free burgers.

Yeah, my wife went with me so we could get two and she’s not too much of a burger fan, so I was able to eat both.

So, how did it compare with my Big Mac? All I can say is, “It was free.” That should tell the story.

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Yes, I’m a Dodger fan and yes, like other Dodger fans, I was confused by the television blackout of their games because I couldn’t get the TV station that carries the games.

Oh well, maybe it’s just me.

At any rate, after reading the results in the sports pages of the newspapers, maybe it’s a good thing the games were not available to me on my TV set.

Yeah, I know, it’s still a long season, so the first few games shouldn’t make any difference.

We’ll see.

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I guess if I ask a question, I will always get a reply from one reader or another.

In this case, I, along with a few other folks, wondered what my friend Bacon Sakatani’s real first name might be.

As one said, “Let’s face it, ‘Bacon’ couldn’t be the name his folks tagged him with.”

Well, a reader whose email address contained the name Mayeda sent me the following: “I believe Bacon Sakatani’s formal name is Harumi Sakatani. He’s formerly from the San Gabriel Valley.”

Well, I’ll check with Bacon to see if the foregoing is correct.

I know that most of us who were given nicknames can tell us how they got them. Yeah, how I became a “horse” and why. Some will say, “Yeah, because you look like a horse.”

No, Bacon doesn’t look like a bacon.

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I guess I mentioned in one of my columns that my wife and I have breakfast at Denny’s about three time a week.

With all our sons married and living away on their own, I concluded that it’s too much of a chore for my wife to be cooking breakfast seven days a week and Denny’s has a special menu that is not only inexpensive, but provides a big breakfast.

The place we frequent used to be quite uncrowded and very seldom did we see any JA patrons. For some reason, this seems to have changed in the last few months. Now there are always JAs in large numbers occupying tables and booths.

Perhaps, for the same reason we started having breakfast there.

Maybe if they start serving miso soup, they might have to change its name to Denso instead of Denny’s.

My wife and I split their special breakfast. It’s called the “Eight.”

We get two hotcakes, two scrambled eggs, four strips of bacon and two sausages, hash browns and two cups of coffee, with refills.

If my wife had to make all that at home, it sure would cost more than we pay at Denny’s.

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Speaking of eating out, if I asked anyone which city in the U.S. has the best Mexican restaurant, 99 percent would respond without hesitation, “Los Angeles.”

Well, according to a recent survey, that would be the wrong answer.

I’m not sure who was asked the question, but the winning answer was New York, an eatery called the Tortilleria Nixtamal, located in Queens.

Bah. A Mexican restaurant outside of Ellay as the “best”? Just who did the judging?

According to the results, the New York eatery makes its own tortillas and salsa.

That’s enough to rate it as the top Mexican eatery in the U.S.?

I guess my only response to the story is “heh, heh.”

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Kind of a change of scenery. A reader wrote the following:

“I know that over the past years you have used photos you took of the aftermath of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m making a collection of such photos. If you have others, can you print them in your column? Thanks.”

Well, yes, I do have a lot of photos I took when I landed in Japan with the U.S. Army Occupation Forces about a month after the bomb was dropped.

I kind of looked around to see if there was a slightly different view of the city after the bombing. You know, with some buildings still standing.

Here’s one such photo that shows a few commercial buildings not destroyed by the  bomb.

hiroshima (for horse)Don’t know if it will “fit” in the reader’s collection.

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Sorry, no Vegas trip on tap.

A couple of readers who said they were in Vegas three times since November wanted to know what happened to me.

Yeah, would you believe it’s going on five months since I last visited my favorite city? Same old excuse, no driver.

I was scheduled to go last week with a couple who offered me and my wife a ride, but as usual, things kept popping up that prevented me from making the trip.

So, if I do finally make a trip, scheduled in three weeks, it will be almost six months since my last trip.

Heck, if this keeps up, I may forget how to play the slot machines, which means, of course, that I’ll have a lot of loose change in my pocket.

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I opened today’s column with a letter, so I guess I’ll close with a letter. This one is from Yuri Joko, who wrote:

“About a month ago, Jimmy Teru Murakami, my great uncle, passed away. An esteemed animator, Jimmy was well-known by many for his big heart, storytelling knack and brilliant filmmaking.

“More than feeling a panging sense of loss, his passing has promoted a personal inner dialogue, one that surrounds a deeply scarred history that has plagued my family, a history that is deeply responsible for shaping who I am.

“Jimmy, my grandparents, their parents, siblings and Japanese American friends were forcibly placed into internment camps for the duration of World War II. Though over two-thirds of those 120,000 interned were American citizens, they were deemed a threat to national security and denied basic human rights.

“I won’t go into how devastating this was for Japanese Americans; how thousands of interned Japanese American boys volunteered to fight for the U.S., the very country that was persecuting them for the color of their skin, in the segregated 442nd, which became the most decorated infantry regiment in the history of the United States Army.

“I won’t get into politics behind justifying the bombing of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I won’t get into how each Japanese American was given $25 upon discharge from camp and expected to begin a new life within a democracy that clearly did not respect them.

“I won’t get into how families returned to their homes after camp to find their property robbed, trashed and vandalized with slurs like ‘Japs not welcome.’ I won’t get into my own bitterness when high school history textbooks dedicate three sentences to this experience.

“I won’t get into the humiliating, shameful dehumanizing toll that this sort of injustice takes on the human soul.

“What I will get into is that this occurred in recent story, recent enough that my grandparents lived through it, that Jimmy (my grandmother’s brother) lived through it.  Remember that the privileges many of us take for granted are available to us only because of the pain suffered by those who came before us.

“I understand that my personal narrative is only one of many historical accounts illustrating the institutionalized prejudice (racial, socio-economic, gender — the list of inequalities goes on) that occurs in the U.S. and beyond its borders.

“I speak of this so that we remember to honor our ancestors, so that we remember to stand in solidarity alongside the billions whose voices remain marginalized today, so that those of us who have the opportunity to an education make the choice to be informed citizens even when the easy choice is to be willfully ignorant, and so that common ground is found before fear.

“I speak of this now because I lament the loss of a special person with a special history that resonates with me. I echo a line from Lupita Nyongo’s Oscar speech, ‘No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.’

“My dad, a fellow animator, recently wrote this article in tribute to Jimmy, detailing how he was inspired to become an animator while he was just a boy in Tule Lake Internment Camp — a dream he was able to realize.

“I speak of this for my grandparents, whose kindness and resilience in this different life inspired me to be empathetic and loving.

“My deepest condolences … Rest in peace, Jimmy, and may your time here never be forgotten.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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