I can be somewhat adventurous when it comes to food; I've been to lots of places around the world, and I'm generally willing to try the local cuisine - even though I've sometimes wound up sick from doing so. But that being said, anyone who knows me well should know that my favorite fare is Mexican food; this is due in large part to growing up in Arizona. As a direct result of my southwest-inspired cultural and environmental surroundings during my formative years, most people who know me are also aware that when it comes to salsa, I can be quite picky. I have been known to leave a restaurant because of bad salsa, and I have brought my own salsa to other restaurants.
It is also common knowledge that I like my salsa hot - somewhere between Habanero Peppers and Ghost Peppers is my ideal temperature range. If my sinuses haven't been cleared up by the time I'm done eating, it wasn't hot enough. That being said, a good salsa is not just about scalding what is left of my taste buds; anyone can make a sweltering salsa, but it has to have enough flavor to make the heat worth the pain. It takes skill to make a salsa hot and delicious at the same time.
One of the many reasons why I loved to have lunch with my friends and co-workers Keith Moore and Wade Hilmo in Seattle was that they shared my affection for a good salsa; any two or three of us would drive around to all of the Mexican restaurants in the Seattle area and judge their salsa. It was kind of amusing to watch us, because we would discuss the merits of various salsas like wine connoisseurs contemplating a rare vintage: "Hmm... I detect cilantro, a touch of garlic, minced onions, with just a hint of pineapple..." (Seriously - one restaurant used pineapple to counter the heat in one of their salsas, which was better than it might sound.)
Needless to say, I was quite happy when the Salsa Fairy arrived with a box of Mrs. Renfro's salsas earlier today... which you can plainly see in the following image. A second box of salsas arrived at the same time, and between the two boxes I had several jars of Mrs. Renfro's Habanero Salsa, Tequila Salsa, Chipotle Salsa, Pomegranate Salsa, and Mexican Hot Sauce.
Because I live in Arizona, I celebrated this momentous occasion with a half-dozen or so tacos - each with a different salsa.
Yup, life is good and all is well in the world…
Even though the following article was written a couple of years ago, it has been making the rounds lately: The Lovely Little Town That Would Have Been Absolutely Screwed by World War III. It's a great article, and I highly recommend reading it. However, here's a spoiler alert: they're talking about Fulda, Germany.
The topic of that article should come as no surprise to anyone who served in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR); the Fulda Gap had been used as a thoroughfare for invading armies between East and West Europe for centuries. This point was vividly brought to my attention when I was in-processing after I arrived in Fulda in January of 1988.
Part of my in-processing was a briefing with Colonel Thomas E. White, who was the 52nd Regimental Commander from 1986 to 1988. During his briefing Col. White made the following ominous statement:
"If the balloon goes up, we expect 90% of the 11th ACR to be dead within the first 30 minutes of battle. This is simple a fact of life. Get used to that idea; it will make things easier."
Col. White followed up that dire prediction with the following observation:
"Fulda has the highest divorce rate of any post in the military. If your marriage survives your tour here, it will survive anything."
In retrospect, Col. White wasn't the cheeriest guy.
But that being said, I soon learned just how true his second statement was; during my first year in Fulda, I was deployed to one place or other for 40 of the 52 weeks. (Most of that time was on the East German border in places I cannot mention.)
At the time, we knew that the Russians had tactical nukes stationed just across the border, and since it was our job to figure out what the Russians were doing, we coined the following unofficial motto:
"The 511th MI Company: First to Know, First to Glow."
Thankfully, the balloon never went up, and less than two years after I arrived in Fulda everything had changed dramatically: the borders between the East and West were opened, the Berlin Wall was demolished, and Soviet Communism met its inevitable demise. If you had told me during my first few days in Fulda that all of those earth-shattering events would occur during my tenure at the 511th, I would have thought you were nuts. Just the same, it has been almost 30 years since I arrived in Fulda, and I'm still thankful that the doomsday prophets didn't get their way.