An Ode To Refried Beans (This Isn’t An Actual Ode)

The UK Mexican crowd (and yes, there is a Mexican crowd. As in people with an appreciation for mexican food, not just Mexicans. Although I do love Mexicans as well, obviously) is decidedly mixed on the viscous subject of refried beans.

In fact, there are some quotes from separate Mexican Cuisine Appreciators that have been brought to my attention as of late.

Mexican Appreciator #1: “Why haven’t you included Refried Beans in the Big Four? Make it the Big Five!” 

Mexican Appreciator #2: “Oh %^@# they’ve put Refried Beans in my @#%£?!ing burrito. I’m going to throw up.”

Mexican Appreciator #3: “I don’t really understand the point of Refried Beans.” 

Mexican Appreciator #4: “Refried Beans taste like dog food.” 

The Nacho Times will address these points chronologically, but before doing so, I’d like to draw your attention to a particularly HNE:

Just so you’re aware, the black substance is not an extra-terrestrial’s giblets, nor is it tar. It is Refried Beans (or should that be “they are Refried Beans”?) and perfectly illustrates the problem we all seem to have with them.

Firstly, they are not and shall not be included in the Big Four due to inconsistency. These RB’s look banging. These do not (although check out the Oh You Cook page for RBs because the recipe is actually really good. Despite resembling cat sick). I think I’ve made my point. Very few are going to eat anything that resembles cat sick, regardless of how tasty a delicacy it is.

Aside paragraph that has little to do with addressing the above quotes and so threatens to overturn the structure if not signposted:

“Hang on,” I hear you potentially cry, “Why the @&#! would you fry beans twice?!” Well that’s where you’re going wrong. Refried Beans are not refried. They’re cooked in water and mashed. So stick that in your pipe and get bent, m’lady. However, this does mean they are a little healthier than many give them credit for. Good source of protein. Good carbohydrate. Y’know, fibrous.

End of structurally unsound, yet important, paragraph

Moving on.

Secondly, if you have such a violent reaction to RBs then this isn’t necessarily to do with them. It’s like not liking semolina. Or flan. Everyone has foods they dislike, so stop complaining or at least attempt to make your own before you rule them out completely. God.

Thirdly, they complement the flavours of any Mexican dish (including, yes, chos). Salsa is sort of sweet yet hot. Soured cream is cooling. Guacamole is creamy. Cheese is salty. Refried Beans are, sort of meaty and glutinous and taste a bit like dog food. But the sort of dog food you wouldn’t mind eating. It’s an acquired taste but if you’ve never taken a left turn down Bean Alley, it’s definitely worth a try.

Fourthly, I think I just covered this. The fact they taste “like dogfood” isn’t a bad thing. It’s something to be experienced. Salt tastes like peoples’ tears but you don’t turn your nose up at Soy Sauce.

In short: give the Refried Beans a chance. You never know, they may just float your fancy and tickle your boat. Unless they make you throw up, in which case, I apologise.

I also apologise for the abundance of faux swearing. Not quite sure where it came from, to be honest. Clearly just having quite an obscene day.


Chaws From T’Leeds (Nachos in Leeds)

Leeds is a fine city. Not only is it the 30th most populated of the European Union, but also has its roots in the wool industry. As we can all agree, wool is great. Any term that sounds like an ejaculation of surprise gets top marks in my books.

Anyway, thanks to Gina (younger sibling of the founder of Nacho Times) we have spread our cho reach to West Yorkshire. Find yourself in Leeds with a thirst for the Holy Cho Fountain (HCF)? Then pop into A Nation of Shopkeepers on Cookridge Street. No, I don’t know where the hell that is either and yes, it does sound utterly mental. Look it up on google maps or something (other maps are available)

Iya y’alriiight? Ahm a leeeeeeds chawwwww (translation: Hello, are you alright? I’m a Leeds Cho)

Apparently these bad boys were quite tasty. Loads of salsa, loads of soured cream, loads of cheese but fatally, no guacamole. OK so it’s not the end of the world, but you’re never going to get over 3.5 if you mess with the big four. Jalapeños were present.

Interestingly we’re seeing more and more layered chos coming out of the mexicana woodwork. Perhaps this is due to the very blog you’re reading, but I doubt it. We’re not established enough. I tried to get free nachos the other day and was rebuffed.

The layering meant that, obviously, baldness was kept to a minimum so despite the lack of guac, you’re definitely in for a treat. On Cooksville road. In Leeds.

Ultimate UK Nacho? No, but it gets a solid 3.5. Oh I already wrote that earlier on so the surprise has been ruined. Sorry.  

Ultimate London Nacho: The Texan Embassy

It’s been all quiet on the nacho front mainly due to me being in Norfolk. Nachos were few and far between (i.e. there weren’t any) but there was a lot of fish produce. 

Thankfully Neil, of One Leg Too Few and the utterly brilliant @band_wagon that sees him tweeting trends a decade after they’ve happened (follow him) went to the Texan Embassy. Then only nearly found the Ultimate London Nacho. Bastard. What’s more annoying is his eloquent review so I think I’m going to have to up my game.

Take it away, Neil…

Place: The Texan Embassy, Trafalgar Square

I had high expectations of these nachos as this is a dedicated tex mex restaurant of some repute. So dedicated, in fact, that it refers to itself as ‘a cantina’ and there are signs about the place telling you how far it is to Texas (4,440 miles). Sitting up one end of the table with all the adults talking politely about politics whilst my little sister and seven of her equally giggly friends drank soft drinks in celebration of her 14th birthday, our starters came at an opportune time, given I’d just been asked a tricky question about Nick Clegg’s foreign policy by an old aunt who had a moustache I’d forgotten about and now couldn’t stop staring at. 

They were always going to taste pretty good, given that I wasn’t paying, but these chos were a thing of beauty. Delightfully proportioned, the chos-to-share came replete with healthy dollops of cream and guacamole, both of which were fresh, cold and full of flavour. Nachos themselves were pleasantly warm, neither too hard nor too soft, with minimal ‘filler’ – the broken detritus that often makes up for half a dish in these dystopian (nacho) times (see what I did there?) which prohibit effective sauce scooping and generally contribute to annoyance and salsa covered trousers. 

The cheese was what really made it, permeating the chos in a layering system that seemed to consistently provide toppings for each handful. God bless the anti-glooper that works in their kitchen. He (or she?) is doing sterling work. Good strategic approach, Texan embassy, and classily executed alongside a tomato salsa and jalepeno pepper (also very fresh) scattergun layout that I haven’t seen before, but brought personality and spice to the table.

The icing on the cake? The inclusion of chicken and refried beans alongisde the chos. Wow. So many options, so many combinations, so many reasons to regret saying I’d share these with my girlfriend.

Ultimate London Nacho? Tasty chos? Certainly. Enough to put me off my Aunt’s moustache? Just. But that’s a pretty big achievement.  4.5 out of 5, as the cheese got a little hard as we got to the bottom.