I have a habit of taking mini-shampoos whenever I'm staying at a hotel. And soaps. And those tiny sewing kits that seem so handy but I never really use. But who doesn't do this, right?
Recently I was cleaning out that bathroom cabinet and noticing all the little shampoo bottles knocking around in there, I decided to use up some of that hotel shampoo. Next time I took a shower, I grabbed one of those little bottles - and suddenly, I realized I was using the same shampoo from our honeymoon. The smell of the shampoo triggered wonderful memories, such a happy little surprise.
We spent our honeymoon in Mexico. We flew into Cancun, but instead of heading south of Cancun to the mega-tourist mecca of Riviera Maya, we grabbed public bus tickets for $6 a piece and rode with the locals north to the very tip of the Yucatan peninsula to a fishing village on Isla Holbox.
Wow, talk about culture shock. We were the only non-latinos on the bus. Mariachi music blared on the radio and all the windows were open to provide a tiny bit of relief in the stuffy, no a/c bus. The road was big enough for just the bus, although it was obviously used for traffic going both ways when we'd see oncoming traffic coming our way and the vehicles would squeeze by each other. We sped through the humid jungle, stopping only once at a tiny puebla so the driver and his buddy could grab a couple cervezas, and then off again. We weren't sure how long the ride would be, not even really sure where we were going, but we just knew that we were together having a great adventure.
Vendors would climb aboard the bus occasionally and hawk their wares. There was a guy selling a book of natural home remedies. There was the sandwich guy selling jamon y queso sandwiches, the ham and cheese oddly wrapped in some sort of sweet bread. And then the fruit guy. We purchased a bag of cut-up pineapple from the fruit guy - he offered us "picante" to go with it, basically chili powder to dust over the top. Confused, we politely declined. Confused by our refusal, he went on his way. Then we bit into the pineapple - it was salted. We still ate it, but I was really curious as to what we'd be eating in the tiny village by our rustic honeymoon grass hut.
Fortunately, our grass hut was at a lovely little eco-resort with a fantastic restaurant. Nothing fancy, but the food was real Mexican food and absolutely delicious. I nearly cried over the arroz con leche. Dinner was always fresh fish and seafood - perfect for us since I adore fish and my husband can eat shrimp for every meal - an interesting quirk for a landlocked ND guy.
At this tiny Mexican heaven, every morning for breakfast I would order huevos rancheros and I've been trying to replicate them ever since. I'm still not there, but here's what I call "gringo" huevos rancheros. And they're still pretty darn good, but I hope we can make it back to that small fishing village someday for the real deal. In the meantime, I'll just crack open that tiny shampoo bottle again for a mini-vacation.
Gringo Huevos Rancheros
Traditional huevos rancheros include either black beans or refried beans - feel free to add beans, but having a spouse who is a bit picky about beans, I leave them out. Please use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas - it makes a world of difference.
4 corn tortillas, warmed and toasted quickly in a hot skillet
8 eggs, scrambled
1 cup shredded cheese
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 Tbls. vegetable oil
Salsa or hot sauce
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add onion and pepper - saute until softened. Add tomato and cook an additional 3-5 mins, until tomato breaks down a bit.
Assemble dish by placing a couple corn tortillas on plate - top with scrambled eggs and cheese. Melt the cheese on top either by microwave or oven - then top with veggies and salsa or hot sauce.