September 22, 2013


There are rare, incomparable meals I have eaten that embody the Platonic ideal of certain foods. At the time, all you can do is revel in their glory. You are ecstatic to have the experience of tasting such delectable perfection.

But then problems begin. No matter where you go, no matter how hard you search, you cannot find anything to replicate that original experience. Everything else you taste comes up short.

I once had the best fish and chips from a hole in the wall joint in Auckland, New Zealand. I subsequently spent the better part of three weeks attempting to replicate the experience. I searched all over the North and South Island. No dice.

The same thing happened in Mexico City. Across the street from the apartment where I lived, there was a hole in the wall (the best places always seem to be of the hole in the wall variety) taco place Chip's--pronounced cheeps in Spanish--which were a better version of Tim's.) In the intervening 12 years, I have yet to encounter a torta that is even in the same ballpark as Watsy's. They. Just. Don't. Compare.
called--of all things--Watsy Taco. For months my friends and I were regulars, and we always ordered the same thing: a chicken torta with cheese. (For a perfect pairing, consume with a green bag of jalapeƱo

To make a torta, it is best to have a very special type of soft, wide bread called a telera. I randomly encountered teleras in a Wilsonville Albertson's recently, and couldn't pass them up. For my first attempt at making tortas, I did not hope to achieve the apogee of the Watsy Torta. But the nice thing about a torta is that it will be still be delicious, even if you are not in Mexico City.

  • Telera rolls, cut in half and toasted-1 per person
  • Refried black beans prepared, or homemade: diced onions, minced garlic, broth
  • Chicken, or meat of your choice 
  • Cheese
  • Grilled onions
  • Avocado slices
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Pickled jalapeƱos
  • Other toppings of your choice (tomato, grilled peppers, etc)
  • Spices, to taste
  1.  Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add cumin, chipotle, chile powder, paprika, salt and pepper, etc. to taste. Add diced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add black beans and a couple tablespoons of broth. Mash the beans together.
  2. Toast telera in a toaster oven or broiler. Cover one side with cheese, so it melts. 
  3. Spread sour cream on one side and refried beans on the other. Build the sandwich by layering the meat, onions, avocado and other ingredients. Drizzle with salsa and top with telera.

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