RaisingDad: Red Cheese Enchiladas

And, I’m begging you, no salad


It's funny about the restaurant I used to buy my mother’s gourmet enchiladas from.

What am I talking about?

I'm talking about back when my beloved mother was still alive, I'd go over every Saturday morning for breakfast. When my schedule at work changed, so did the time I’d go over and visit. Breakfast became lunch, and the routine changed from her feeding me, to me feeding her. I always asked in advance what she would like, but her order never changed. It was always red cheese enchiladas, extra onions, and no salad.

“What about your father?” you might ask.

 You sure do ask a lot of questions, my friend.

Well, my father preferred home-cooked meals, so my mother would grudgingly fix him something else to eat. I'm sure he would have preferred the enchiladas I was bringing over, but to him it was a matter of pride.

The reason I tell you all this is because I was thinking about the lady who, week after week, would take my order. She was an older lady with a bad case of arthritis in one hand. Why she was working as the cashier, I don't know. I always thought she might have been the owner of the restaurant, but she could have been a former waitress whose waitressing days were long behind her.

“Welcome to Las Fuentes,” she would greet me. “You can seat yourself.”

I was only there EVERY Saturday and she would act as if she had never seen me before in her life.

“Maybe she's one of your old high school girlfriends,” my older and less attractive brother suggested. “Assuming you had any.”

Believe me, if she had been one of my girlfriends she would have given me my food for free.

There was a separate To Go section at the restaurant's cashier’s station, and that's where I would stand, just under their "Order Here" sign. Why she would always assume I wanted a sit-down meal, I don't know.

“I'm ordering out,” I would politely tell her.

If there was a to-go order there ready to be picked up, she’d ask me, “is this yours?”

“No,” I would tell her.

“Are you sure?” she would respond.

Of course, I was sure.

You see, I never ever called in and only ordered the red cheese enchilada plate with extra onions EVERY time I went there. Remember how I just wrote “with extra onions”?

“Did you want onions with that?” she’d always want to know.

“Extra onions,” I'd repeat.

My mother didn’t care for their salad, so I’d also tell the lady, “No salad, please.”

 “No salad?” she’d say, like not wanting shredded lettuce with your meal was beyond her comprehension.

“That's right.”

“You don’t want any salad.”

“No salad.”

“It comes with salad.”

“Please, no salad.”

There were times I wanted to whine, “Don't you know who I am?” like an offended Hollywood celebrity, but I kept it to myself because the ladies were nice, the food was good, and I didn’t want them--mistaking the enchilada plate as mine--to do anything to my mother’s food.

Sometimes, after I gave her my order, she’d incorrectly clarify, “CHICKEN enchiladas?”

“No,” I’d correct her. “Cheese.”

Once, another waitress who was especially nice to my granddaughter when I took her, noticed the lady wrote down "chicken enchiladas" on her ordering pad. Knowing it was for me, she told her, “He wanted the cheese.”

I tipped two people that day.

I write all this, because I was thinking in particular about the time the older lady handed me my order and said, “Here’s your green enchiladas.”

GREEN enchiladas?

I checked.

They were red, so all was good.

Except for the salad.

When I hide Easter eggs, I hide the best ones in my stomach. theduchenebrothers@gmail.com; @JimDuchene