Post # 150 Best. Nachos. Ever!

August 2, 2013 at 9:00 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 150 Best. Nachos. Ever!

I moved to Northern VA in 1987 and lived in an apartment about three or four blocks from the Pentagon.  I worked for the Marine Corps and could walk to work so it was a great time for me.  I was 29, and the computer industry as we know it today was balancing to explode and I was part of it.  I liked my job; I liked the people I worked with; I liked the city I lived in.

One day, the major who had just taken over the dept. I worked in was talking with a group of people as I walked up with some reports that had just been printed.  As I joined the group, they looked away from the major and said, “Here’s the guy!”

The major looked at my puzzled face, and said, “You’re from Yuma?”

At my nod, he continued. “I got one word for you: Chretin’s!”  He laughed at the blissful expression on my face.  Chretin’s Mexican Restaurant was a landmark in our town.  It was a smallish place, owned and operated by a family who had left Mexico for the great American dream.  It had absolutely the best Mexican food anywhere.  I was never there when it wasn’t packed to the rafters.

Local gossip, rumors, legends grew and changed centering on how the owners came from Mexico on a mule train across the desert to open the restaurant with just two people working it.  The more tales I heard, the taller they grew.  I never fact-checked, content to eat the best Mexican food ever and let everything else go by me.  If any of my Yuma friends are reading this and know the true origin story, please feel free to let me know.

The memories that come back when I think of that place sometimes overwhelm me.  One of my best friends, and certainly one of my longest lasting, and I had our first not-really-a-date there.  I’m not certain if it was her first time at the restaurant, but my memory tells me that she didn’t know the place very well, so it could have been.  We were sitting, waiting for our food to arrive when she noticed the squeeze bottles of salsa, red and green.

“What are these?” she asked.

I don’t know where it came from, but a full blown lie came to my mind and I ran with it, the bastard that I am.  “You know how you like to eat the ice out of your water?  Well, lots of people like to do that so they provide things to flavor the ice for you.”

“What a great idea!  Which one tastes better?”

Okay, I said it, I can be a bastard.  “I like the green one best.”

I watched as she put the spoonful of ice and salsa into her mouth, then laughed as she lunged for her water glass.  I told you I was a bastard.  She didn’t talk to me for a long time.

I probably had everything on the menu at one time or another.  It was all good.  The one thing my whole family loved most were the nachos.  They may have had other nachos on the menu, but the only one we got were the Chretin’s Nachos.  They weren’t like nachos you see now.  They weren’t Nachos Grande, or Nachos supreme.  They didn’t have a half gallon of cheese sauce melted over them with guacamole, sour cream, various chili, beans, salsa, tomatoes, onion.  None of that stuff.  It was simple, delicious, cheesy, and GOOD!

They took crispy, round, corn tortillas and put cheese on them individually.  They were topped with a single slice of jalapeno pepper, baked, and served warm in a single layer, no overlap.  I never dipped them or added salsa, but put the hot cheesy spicy crunchy delights in my mouth, chewed and swallowed.  They were the best!!

Here’s how good they were.  My sister used to babysit for a family who would pay her with two dozen nachos rather than cash.  She would bring them home and my brother and I would each get one.  Mom and Dad would each get two.  She took the rest to her room and gorged herself.  They were really that good.  Simplicity itself, but the flavor reaches out across the decades since I last had them.

The picture doesn’t do them justice, but here they are:

nachos2

Chretin’s Nachos

  • 2 dozen round corn tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 dozen fresh jalapeno pepper slices

Heat your oven to 375.  Spray a baking sheet with Pam and lay a single layer of round tortilla chips with no overlap.  Mix the cheeses and divide evenly on the tortilla chips taking care not to spill any.  Top with a single slice of jalapeno pepper.  Place in the oven and heat until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve hot.

Like I said, simple, and delicious.  The best, IMHO.

Enjoy!

UPDATE:  I wrote this earlier and when I posted it, somehow something glitched and it didn’t post properly.  2/3 of it was lost.  But, because of the subject of the post, we decided to go out for Mexican food!  So, here’s the post, a little late.

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