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Wahaca and I, or How We Got Back Together

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My little sister's first boyfriend was a very sweet 17-year-old who used to meet her after school at Victoria for hand-holding and whatnot. 'Every time I go to Victoria,' My little sister announced recently. 'I am struck by a deep sense of nostalgia for that relationship.' I stared at her uncomprehendingly. 'Didn't you dump him?' I asked. 'He was my first boyfriend,' She continued, unheedingly. 'And we spent so much of our time together in Victoria.' 'How romantic,' I sniggered. My little sister glared at me until I left the room, but it got me thinking.

Nostalgia is not something I particularly suffer from - I am scarcely hindered by any long-term memories at all- which is both a blessing and a curse - I once had to crawl on my hands and knees out of a cinema to avoid greeting a girl I was at school with, as I had long-forgotten her name, but I am particularly prone to a much more unique disease, which I have labelled 'grudge-holding'. I cannot remember names, faces or vital information. I can, however, remember with absolute certainty, and in the minutest detail, every single one of the wrongs done to me. Ever.

One of the greatest wrongs, a slight that truly rankles, embodying, as it does, the paradigm example of David and Goliath, happened at Wahaca. Now, to many of you, Wahaca is a reasonably-priced, well-lit, Mexican restaurant. Certainly, with the recent opening of its 8th store (on Charlotte street, which, infuriatingly, looks extremely cool, with its new mezcal bar and breakfast delights), it seems that other people rather like Wahaca.

2012-10-09-charlottestreet.jpeg (photo credit: wahaca)

Infuriatingly, included amongst these other people are my friends. A few years ago, we were going for dinner. Someone suggested Wahaca. Everyone is enthusiastic. I reply curtly, 'I hate Wahaca, and will not be eating there. All other restaurants good.' There is resounding silence from my friends. I can tell that they would prefer to eat at Wahaca without me.

I would like to quickly re-iterate that my deep mistrust of Wahaca is not irrational. The first time I went there, I took some of their free matches. In a later romantic situation (I look 236% better in candlelight, and therefore like all romantic events to take place in semi-gloom. Trust me, it's wise) I attempted to use these matches to frantically yet seductively light candles. No go. The whole event was a bust, naturally (direct light is not my friend). Turns out Wahaca, because they're so bloody 'Mexican' and whatnot, don't give out free matches.

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From Wahaca, you get chilli seeds. I'm serious. Little strips of chilli seeds that come in a matchbox. Presumably so you can finger these chillis and then wipe your eyes, and re-experience the joys of Wahaca.

I was dragged back to Wahaca on a second occasion. I left the first visit hungry yet poor, so this time I decided to ask the waiter's advice. Unfortunately, I was a little too enthusiastic in my new relationship with the waiter, and very nearly was dumped after dinner. I blame Wahaca entirely.

Against my better judgment, I allowed myself to be taken to Wahaca last week. I was lured to their new Charlotte Street restaurant by the promise of The Tequila Experience- which, in the end, I was not given, but which sounded frightfully good- a tray of three different types of El Tesoro tequila to enjoy with your meal.

Grumpy at my lack of top-quality tequila, I was firmly prepared to hate Wahaca. 'I will have a ceviche salad, and a chicken burrito,' I told the waitress. 'I am aware that the idea here is to choose 2-3 dishes, and pretend we are at a street market.' I turned to my friends, who were looking at me in alarm. 'Um,' One of them began hesitantly. 'That's a different part of the menu. You're ordering 2 mains.' I smiled kindly at my friend. 'Wahaca and I have history,' I explained loudly. 'I think I know how to order.'

It turns out my friends were right, because an enormous crispy tortilla arrived for me, filled with fresh shrimp and scallops, which had been cured in fresh lime juice and jumbled up with avocado, cucumber and mint. 'I do not like this,' I told my friend firmly. 'Why have you eaten it all?' He asked in reply. I stared at him until he returned to his own cactus taco, which he did not want to share, as it was 'too nice for you'.

Obviously, I had finished my excellent ceviche mountain simply because my chicken burrito was waiting, and I wanted to get to it before my friends did. (Not that I thought it was going to be good, mind you, it's just that I really hate to share food). Personally, I feel that burritos are somewhat maligned as a foodstuff- a bias I blame Ozzy Osbourne for, after he was seen endlessly leaving half-eaten burritos around his home on 'The Osbournes'. Burritos are like ice-cream cones- a perfect meal to eat on the go, because its container is also edible. They are also, at base, incredibly healthy- the filling is meat, rice, beans and salsa. (Naturally, only an idiot would eat a burrito without lashings of guacamole and cheese, but I think everyone is well aware that toppings don't have calories).

'Well,' I said after we had 'shared' some salted caramel ice-cream. 'It is possible that Wahaca has taken some of my 'suggestions' on board, because this was certainly much, much better than the other times I have been here.' 'I'm sure that's it,' My friend replied, rolling his eyes. 'Well,' I continued, unperturbed. 'I am very pleased. Wahaca has transformed itself into a very cool restaurant. And for 'small dishes', they are exceedingly generous with their portions.' My friend started to explain once again how the Wahaca menu works, but I had become distracted by the familiar shine of their 'trick matches', and was busy filling out a very helpful comments form, telling them exactly what I thought of their food (excellent) and their 'seeds as matches scam' (terrible).

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