In the last two weeks, Neil and I went to two Latin Restuarants: Guarapo’s and Rosa Mexicano’s. Both had a decent reputation for their food and we were excited to partake. First we went to Guarapo’s. I was extremely excited about this one because it had Arepa’s on the menu. If there is one thing I miss continuously of New York, it is this tiny Arepa Bar in the East Village called Caracas. Caracas is the first place I eat upon arriving in NYC. The first arepa I had there was with two of my favorite foodies: EBS & JBS. An arepa is a Venezuelan sandwich, I was told and wait you have the sauce they serve it with. “I could just drink that sauce by itself,” JBS declared that evening. I looked at him with delight. I couldn’t wait to try this stuff. He was a reviewer I trusted completely. So walked into a tiny restaurant that had 6 even tinier tables to sit at. We were lucky enough to snag the window seat. I ordered the La Jadineria Arepa: a fried corn cake-crispy on the outside and moist on the inside-stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, garlic, cumin and a blend of spices. My first bite transported me back to my mom’s egg curry. I couldn’t believe how flavorful and reminiscent this arepa was. I was hooked. Caracas became my usual in-between-classes snack and lunch spot.
Needless to say, when I saw the menu at Guarapo’s, I couldn’t wait to go. As we walked toward the restuarants, I noticed a couple of red flags that I quickly stuffed away–outside there were hookah’s on tables. Odd, hookah’s are usually middle-eastern, but maybe they just do this at night, I rationalized. We sat fairly quickly and ordered our chicken arepas. The plate arrived with 3 tiny arepas that were not stuffed and the filling on the side. Okay, this is different, keep an open mind I told myself. I cut open a tiny arepa and stuffed it with the chicken, longing for that sauce that Caracas had. My first bite took me back to this horrible Mexican restuarant in NYC that I tried one night with EBS because we were craving Mexican. It is really a mystery as to why there are no good Mexican restaurants in New York, but there aren’t or weren’t. The chicken was pulled and cooked, perhaps steamed with green pepper and onions and nothing else, it seemed because calling it bland would be an understatement. Bellies filled with disappointment, we walked out just as the night crowd was arriving in cocktail dresses and high heels. “I think this place is more about drinks than the food,” Neil commented as we walked to the car. “Yeah, but why serve food at all if it’s going to be that? I mean if you were opening a lounge and knew you were serving food, wouldn’t you want to serve the best food?” I questioned a little frustrated. Neil’s response was a silent shrug. “Well, we had to tried it know for sure, so there it is,” I said with resolution.
Next we went to Rosa Mexicano’s on National Harbor. Now, I will say that I had a few more doubts about this place than Guarapo’s because it supposed to be shi-shi (upscale, pretentious) Mexican food. I was willing to try it, however, because it had some interesting items on the menu like shredded lamb tacos. Listen you put lamb on the menu and it doesn’t matter where I am, I’m going to want to try it. Call it cliche, call it a stereotype, but I love a well made lamb dish. Friday evening, Neil and I headed to National Harbor to kick off our weekend with a meal at Rosa Mexicano’s. We were both really excited when we looked at the menu. As we sat there, slowly the red flag emerged in slow motion like a faraway sign becoming legible as you get closer. First red flag: the server asked us twice if we wanted the $14 guacamole which we refused. Second red flag: chips were brought out with their version of “salsa” which was more like the green sauce that you get on enchiladas and mexican hot sauce. Third red flag: the chorizo queso arrived at our table in a cast-iron skillet and when I dipped my chip in the cheese was so sturdy that my chip broke in it. We ate the queso with a fork because it was so stringy. There was, however, a small window of hope: the chorizo was amazing! Thus, I kept my mind open for the lamb tacos which was a waste. The meat was tender, but aside from that had no flavor whatsoever.
I walked away from both meals really pissed and looking back on my decision trying to figure out where I went wrong. Was there a review that I didn’t read thoroughly? Did the Yelp rating lead me the wrong way? Am I so different from the Yelp reviews? Should I have read other reviews and now depend so much on Yelp? I do this often. Anytime a decision that I make’s outcome is negative, I believe that there could have been a way to avoid the negative outcome.
Therefore, it is no surprise when I think of pregnancy, I fear the negative outcomes. Recently, I’ve gotten a lot of “how old are you’s?” followed by: “do you plan to have children?” to which my response is, “I’m not sure” and then I get the urgent, “don’t wait too long!” Ever reminding me that there is a definite deadline to have children or else…
This year I have decided, like Charlotte in Sex and the City Season 3 who decided she was going to get married that year, to make an executive decision about having a baby or not. Mostly to have a comfortable, confident, and calm response to the “don’t wait too long” remark. Thus, I began the process of my usual decision making: I began with internet research. (I have an autoimmune condition: Rheumatoid Arthritis and needed to know what pregnancy would mean for my body.) I read testimonials, medical journals and research studies, and blogs. All of which painted a bleak picture of the outcome. Most said that they did relapse during pregnancy and those that didn’t had a severe relapse a fews after birth. After doing all the research I began to mourn the fact that I had to make difficult decisions, if I ever wanted to get pregnant. I had to decide to stay on or get off my medications. Getting off would mean the possibility of relapse during pregnancy which would result in more drugs during. Staying on would mean that I would have to be okay with the research that says that it is fine to stay on right now, knowing that they haven’t yet studied it long enough to know that the meds don’t affect the baby later in life. Then there’s the after birth relapse which was the scariest of them all. The big question that was still unanswered and would never be: how would my body react to pregnancy?
Now that I knew all these possibilities, I was sad, angry, frustrated at everyone and wanted to blame everyone.
I can be dramatic…sometimes.
On my drive back from Rosa Mexicano’s, I comforted myself by reminding myself that if I hadn’t experienced it, I would never know how I felt about their food. I could have done all the research in the world, but without the experience my opinion could not be formed. Translation: there are no wrong decisions in life. Each decision allows me the opportunity to learn something and grow. Therefore, while I was pissed off about the arepas, the tacos, and the information from my research about Rheumatoid Arthritis and pregnancy, whatever decision I make about having children or not, it will be the right one for me. Today I don’t think I want children, but this idea changes daily. The thing I’m working on is letting go of the pressure I put on myself to make the right decision so that I can be completely ready and perfectly planned for the outcome.