Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 52 Kerouaction: On Food

Day 52 in The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions is titled, "On Food." It references the below passage from On The Road.

The Kerouaction here is simple: The beat diet includes Mexican food.

I hope I don't have to point out that eating at Taco Bell does not automatically count as eating Mexican food. First, you may be not in Mexico or southern California (I know there are authentic Mexican restaurants elsewhere, but read on). Second, your Taco Bell food may have been prepared by an American teenager who can't find Mexico on a map. Third, it's mass-produced junk food from an evil mega-corporation, so eating there definitely violates beat protocol.

You could prepare Mexican food yourself, which would be better than going to Taco Bell, although its authenticity will be limited by your training and cultural heritage.

Here's your best option: Head for Mexico (or southern California) right now. Drop whatever you are doing and start out. Hitchhiking is the best method of travel for this Kerouaction. Take a couple of bucks so you can buy tacos and mashed pinto beans rolled in tortillas at an authentic Mexican restaurant when you get there.

Let's clear up some confusion about where Sal was when eating his tacos and mashed pinto beans rolled in tortillas. At the time, "Sabinal" is where Sal (Jack) was living with Terry (real-life Bea Franco) in her brother Rickey's garage in this part of the book. Sabinal, Mexico is southeast of Tuscon, AZ and southwest of Las Cruces, NM, due south of the New Mexico/Mexico border. So it might seem to the casual observer that Sal was living in Mexico with Terry.

However, it makes no sense that Jack was talking about the real Sabinal, Mexico, because, first of all, it is 17 hours and a thousand miles from Madera, CA, where Sal, Rickey, and Ponzo go to see a farmer about some manure. You don't drive a thousand miles to see a farmer about manure. Second, Bea Franco was from Selma, CA. There is no Sabinal, CA. Third, Jack calls Sabinal "a little California town--a whistle stop on the SP."

Fourth, Jack describes eating this food in "Fresno Mextown." There is no Fresno, Mexico, but there is a Selma, CA just southeast of Fresno.

So, Sal was eating Mexican food in Fresno, CA. That makes it okay to eat Mexican food in a Mexican restaurant in Fresno, CA and call it beat. At the same time, Jack spent a lot of time in real Mexico, so an even beater action would be to head for Mexico for this particular meal.

Sabinal would be a nice touch. On the other hand, Selma, CA, would suffice. And they have a Taco Bell. Sigh.... At least take your copy of The Beat Handbook with you and get the cook to autograph page 121.


Sissy said...

Aww man, the street tacos al pastor in Tijuana are to die for - spit roasted juicy marinated pork shaved off into a fresh & warm hand-made corn tortilla... of course you are taking your life in your hands when you go across the border these days, but you can def find them at little taco shops down in chulajuana or National City, just got to know where to look.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Thanks for the tips, Sissy! I'm jealous that you've done that!