While trolling through my one primary cookbook for a recipe the other night, I came upon this discovery, a ripped-out page from a 2004 edition of Texas Monthly magazine. Therein was the story of nachos. Nachos, the perfect food (all the major food groups), has a history dating to 1943.
Ignacio Anaya was the maître d’ at the Victory Club, in Piedras Negras, Mexico — across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas — when a group of officers’ wives from nearby Fort Duncan, came in after the kitchen had closed. The 49-year-old Anaya dashed into the kitchen and cut some tortillas into triangles, fried them, added Wisconsin cheddar cheese, heated them again. He topped them with pickled jalapeno peppers. The customers loved them and asked the name: “Nacho’s especiales.” He later opened his own restaurant. Anaya died in 1975.
Since then, there have been hundreds of variations of nachos and nachos are considered routine ballpark or theater fare. Howard Cosell, who had never had them before, mentioned them on a Monday Night Football broadcast from Texas Stadium. The first known appearance of the word “nacho” appears in the 1950 cookbook, “A Taste of Texas.”
The International Day of the Nacho, in case you’re wondering, is Oct. 21. Piedras Negras recognized Anaya’s contribution to culinary culture with a plaque in his honor and holds the “world’s biggest nacho” contest every October.
The Montreal Expos, nowadays the Washington Nationals, are experiencing a renaissance of sorts. It’s unlikely Major League Baseball will return to Montreal, the first international city outside the U.S. to have a team, yet their franchise and players are the point of ongoing interest.
The Expos began in 1969 and relocated to Washington in 2004. In 1994, the Expos were in first place with a 74-40 record, and five players on the National League all-star team, when the season was canceled because of a players strike. We’ve a friend, Brian Barnes, who won 14 games in four seasons for the Expos as a left-handed spot starter and middle reliever for in the early 1990s. A small-town guy who was told repeatedly that he was “too small” (5-9) to play at the NCAA Division One level (Clemson) or the minor and later, major leagues.
Montreal produced some Hall of Fame players, or some that were good year in, year out: Tim Raines, Larry Walker, Tim Wallach, Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou, Andre Dawson.
Dawson, who was elected to the Hall in 2010, played 21 years for four teams and courted the Chicago Cubs to trade for him because Montreal’s artificial turf stadium was ruining his knees. “The Hawk” was a Cubs star for six seasons.
Dawson was also newsworthy while in uniform for another reason. He was allegedly sued twice in paternity litigation by flight attendants. Said late night funnyman Jay Leno then of Dawson’s predicament: “Geez, all I ever wanted was and extra bag of peanuts.”
“Wrinkles mean you laughed, gray hair means you cared and scars mean you lived.”
— Old Vaquero saying, True West magazine