Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chava’s Mexican Restaurant

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana[1]." ~ Groucho Marx

(No official web-site)

2839 Mission Street (between 24th and 25th Streets)

phonicular contact: (415) 282-0283

(I figured this was an à propos EweToob link. I have no idea what Linda and her mariachi[2] buddies are singing about, though. I think it translates loosely as "The cockroaches enter, but they never leave." Must be some kinda Mexican pest control commercial.)

I can not believe that it has been three years (tres años) since I last ate breakfast at
Chava's[3] Mexican Restaurant (see last 'blog-entry from August 8th, 2010). They open at 8:00am daily (they used to open up at 6:00am when they were still at their old location on 18th Street many years ago; I occasionally went there for breakfast before work when I used to work nearby) which is nice and early enough for me (and I really don't know how to say "Brunch" in Spanish, anyway). This can be either a good thing or a bad thing: they have their jukebox (tocadiscos tragamonedas) blasting out música de mariachi and the like even early in the morning.

I used to have Chava's in my Breakfastary Rotation and would go there at least four to six times a year. They were DFA'd several years back because I would always get the same thing there and it made for a rather boring trip, but even after that I still would go back a few times a year. I didn't get the Chilaquiles for a change this morning, but their version is my touchstone/paradigm for chilaquiles and it is still one of the best that I have ever had. I just ordered the Huevos a la Mexicana ~ 3 huevos revueltos con cebolla, tomate y chile verde (3 scrambled eggs with onions, tomato, and green bell pepper); se sirves con arroz, frijoles (refritos) y tortillas (de maíz) hechas a mano (served with rice, refried beans, and handmade corn tortillas). Even before taking your order, they will bring out corn tortilla chips and (at least) two different salsas; today there were a pico de gallo and a simple salsa roja. I also had a cuppa Café Mexicano (this is really just a standard cuppa coffee, but I call it that because I add about three to four teaspoons of sugar ~ azúcar ~ and fill it to the brim with milk ~ con leche; that is how I first saw a lot of local Mexicans doing it years ago and I make it una tradición to do so whenever I eat desayuno at a Mexican joint now).

I probably should have asked for them to add at least one jalapeño pepper to the scramble; they will do this if you ask and they will usually char the jalapeño pepper on an open flame first, too. There was nothing wrong with the scramble, it could just have used a bit more fuego, I think. I like that there are corn and peas in the rice. What I will usually do is mix the rice with the refried beans and add some salsa (I used most of the pico de gallo this morning) to it and make a sort of dip for the corn tortilla chips. Their handmade corn tortillas (two of them this morning; one would not be enough and three would be too much for me) were fresh and hot right off the griddle as I was the first customer in the door; they usually make the tortillas up fresh for each order, anyway, and they have one lady that is dedicated to that task all day long. This is always an awful lot of food and I can barely finish it all and subsequently am not hungry until way after lunchtime has passed.

Other than the above-mentioned fresh-made condimentary supplementation, Chava's also has bottles of Tapatío® on the tables, which are pretty superfluous if you ask me. I never bother bringing anything from my own collection with me when I go to breakfast in the Mission. Neither of their hot sauces were really overly gringo picante today. I even used up all of the salsa roja in with the scramble mess.

Tempus fugit, Musa sapientum ambulat?

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Huevos a la Mexicana ~ 6.8 (this is factoring in their excellent handmade corn tortillas)

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, part the first:

The English word "banana" comes from the Wolof word "banaana". It is interesting that the Latin/botanical term for banana is the genus Musa. That word may have been adapted from the Arabic word for banana, "
موز" (somewhat pronounced like "moose"). That was one of the few Arabic words that I ever learned and it came in very handy on hot days (110°+… in September… in the shade) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when I was ordering a refreshing, cold banana juice drink.

And just because you were patient enough for all of that, here is/are "banana" in several other languages:

Spanish/Bosnian/Catalan/Croatian/Irish/Maltese/Portuguese/Slovenian/Welsh ~ banana (simply pronounced like you would think)
French ~ banane (pronounced "banana")
German ~ Banane (also pronounced "banana")
Greek ~
μπανάνα (pronounced just like it looks ~ sorry, I never get tired of that joke; stupid, useless cunning linguist sub-pointer: in Greek there is no letter "B", so to make the sound of a "B", they put an "M" and a "P" together to get the similar sound; it actually works, try it ~ "MP"; however, I have no idea what they call the Air Force police force)
Italian/Albanian ~ banane (however, this one is pronounced as "bananay")
Russian/Belarusian/Bulgarian/Ukranian ~
банан (pronounced "banan")
Afrikaans ~ piesang (pronounced "peesang"; additional stupid, useless cunning linguist sub-pointer: normally Afrikaans is a Dutch-based language; however, this word comes from the Malay word; bananas are native to tropical South and Southeast Asia)
Armenian ~
բանան (pronounced "banan")
Azerbaijani/Danish/Norwegian/Polish*/Swedish ~ banan (I would suppose it is pronounced as simply as it looks, too)
Basque ~ platano (again, I assume it is just pronounced as it looks; see: "plantain")
Czech/Hungarian/Slovak ~ banán (I will let you determine how to pronounce this one)
Dutch/Estonian ~ banaan
Esperanto ~ banano (just in case you ever find yourself stuck in downtown Esperantotown and have curtailed your Walpoling activities because you find yourself a bit peckish, esurient, eee-'ungry-like for a banana)
Filipino ~ saging
Finnish ~ banaani
Galician/Lithuanian ~ bananas (feel free to ask Fielding Mellish how to pronounce that one)
Georgian ~
ბანანის (pronounced "bananis")
Haitian Creole ~ bannann
Icelandic ~ banani (and there is no truth at all to the rumour that bananas originated in Iceland)
Indonesian/Malay ~ pisang
Japanese ~
バナナ (pronounced "banana")
Korean ~
바나나 (pronounced "banana")
Latvian ~ banāns
Macedonian/Serbian ~
банана (pronounced "banana")
Romanian ~
Turkish ~ muz (pronounced "moose")
Yiddish ~
באַנאַנע (You want I should pronounce it like "banan"?)

And, of course, as always, bananas are an actual botanical berry.

*(I was going to end this explanation saying that the Polish word for "banana" was "żółty owoc", but figured the whole Polish jokes thing has been pretty much exhausted by now.)

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer del día, número dos:

(Stolen directly from Wikipedia, so take it for what it is.)

The word "mariachi" was thought to have derived from the French word "mariage" (meaning "marriage") dating from the French Intervention in Mexico in the 1860's, related to the music's appearance at weddings. This was a common explanation on record jackets and travel brochures. However, this theory was disproven with the appearance of documents that showed that the word existed before this invasion. The origin of the word is still in dispute, but most of the prominent theories state that it has indigenous roots. One states that it comes from the name of the wood from which the dance platform is made. Another states that "mariachi" comes from the indigenous name of a tree called pilla or cirimo, and yet another states that it came from an image locally called "Maria H" (pronounced "mah-ree-ah Ah-chay").

3. "Chava" is the nickname in Mexico for a guy named "Salvador". I can only assume that the owner is named Salvador.

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