Dinner at De Leon Foods

De_leonWe met tonight with Ben, a photographer from the Inlander. They are doing a story on our little experiment in the Dining Guide and needed a picture. I guess it comes out on Wednesday. Nancy says she hopes we don't look weird. We'll see. It's hard to cover up the obvious.

Ben wanted to meet at a restaurant that fits with our plan and De Leon Foods was the first thing that came to mind. It is a local Mexican grocery, bakery, tortilla factory, and restaurant all in one. A bonus for us is that they get their flour for the tortillas from Shepherd's Grain, a co-op of Eastern Washington wheat farmers. It's hard to find Mexican food outside of the Azteca genre in Spokane so this place is a real treat.

We have been getting a steady supply of their tortillas and chips but hadn't had a chance sit down for a meal at their cafeteria style restaurant. Someone told me they were kind of expensive but we were able to feed the whole family four tacos, a burrito and enchilada for around $12. I highly recommend the tacos.

The surprise treat for the night was born out of a recurring dilemma. The kids wanted dessert and were hovering around the grocery store mini freezer filled with all kinds of non-local treats. These situations are real moments of truth for sticking to the plan. Nothing weakens my knees like the whiny defiant chorus of my daughters, saying "Pleeeeeeeaaaaase." Something deep inside my parental cortex yells, "Please make it go away. Give them whatever they want. Just make it stop."

Nancy explained that the ice cream treats weren't made locally and that we couldn't get them. As they headed my direction for an appeal to their mother's decision I thought of telling the photographer to get his camera ready for a real picture of locavore life. I can see the headlines; "Heartless Spokane Father Denies Children Ice Cream".

As is always the case in these moments, we went to work figuring out what we COULD eat. They didn't serve desserts at the restaurant but the clerk explained that they have a full bakery and everything is made on location. I've never been a fan of Mexican baked goods, but we discovered an awesome selection of colorful carb comfort food. Most of the items had a familiar look, but with a little Latin twist to each one. It took us a minute to figure out the routine. You grab a metal tray, stack your bounty with tongs and take it to the cash register where they load them into a cardboard box for you. The girls gobbled up their .50 cent treats and all was right with the universe.

One lesson learned is that there is a whole world of delights right under our noses, that will go unnoticed and unexperienced unless we occasionally say no to the normal pathways of consumption. What begins in us as grumpy resistance against change, quickly becomes the deep satisfaction of trying something new.

So here's a challenge. Take one well worn pathway of consumption, and for one week say no, and see how much fun it is to say yes to something different.