Chips, salsa and a bit of foreign policy
Walking into Chevy’s is a lot like meeting a famous actor or actress. The meeting begins better than it ends, the conversation feels fake, and you tend to believe that the whole situation would’ve been a lot better 10 years earlier. Chevy’s used to be a pretty decent place to get Mexican food in Northern California, and while the guacamole and margaritas are excellent, I find the entrees leave much to be desired. All that aside, their salsa is positively addicting. I mean, they constantly serve and refill freshly made chips and house made fresh salsa. The salsa is refreshing with a subtle spice. It’s hard to explain, much like the admiration of famed actors or actresses: Maybe I like the salsa because of the nostalgia, maybe I like it because it looks absolutely stunning, maybe I like it because it moves me in very profound ways, at any rate, I highly recommend it.
But when you order chips and salsa, a side of a dilemma is served with it: And no, I’m not talking about the age old question of “How many orders of free chips and salsa can I eat and get away with before I actually buy anything?” The question I refer to requires us to turn to none other than United States Military Policy. But, before I get into making comparisons between Somali Pirates and people who arrive after you but get seated first, I must present some context.
It was a typical Sunday night. Actually, it was hardly a typical Sunday night: My family was at Chevy’s, celebrating one of my friend’s birthdays with her family. It was around 7:20 PM, and after I engaged in a series of awkward conversations with the hostess and three waiters, we were sitting down to a warm basket of chips and a bowl of salsa. The restaurant was going about usual business: Waiters were talking to one another, people were yelling at TV’s in the Cantina (No doubt using yelling at their team’s poor performance as a way to lash out about their loveless marriages, bad childhoods, uncooperative hair and rebellious pets), and every ten minutes or so, a diner celebrating his or her birthday would receive a sombrero on their head, free dessert and a mariachi band song.
But, today, I wish to talk about something far more intruiging than Chevy’s soft tacos. Today, I’m going to talk about the ongoing conundrum of tortilla chips being left behind in the salsa. This is a tragedy that has befallen civilization every since some wealthy American decided that winning the war in 1846 and taking Mexico’s land wasn’t enough, that Americans need to exploit Mexico further by mass producing and Americanizing their cuisine. You see, chips, especially restaurant chips, are so delightful because they are hot and thin (Insert joke about how people are delightful for similar reasons from time to time): However, this presents a challenge: What happens when, in your zeal to get as much salsa as you can on your chip, your chip breaks? Do you leave it there? Do you hope it dissolves? Do you scoop it out with a fork? Do you leave it behind and eat the remainder? Do you get another chip to bring it out?
The whole crisis feels eerily familiar to the Clinton years and US Army Policy: In 1993, after the Somali government collapsed, warlords rose into power in the divided country. One such leader withheld UN food and humanitarian aid from his starving people, prompting (in addition to countless other reasons, like “we just beat Saddam so easily that we never got to show off what our cool rangers could do, so let’s intervene in Somalia”) US and UN forces to intervene in the country. Basically, the US planned to enter a city called Mogadishu via helicopter, seize top enemy leaders, and leave on humvees (which, for the record, always seem to get the best parking spaces). However, while the rangers were being propelled from their helicopters, the helicopter was shot down by an RPG (giving the battle the nickname “Blackhawk Down”). Basically, US army policy is to not leave wounded, or even dead American bodies in some cases, behind. So the US sent in a rescue squad, but they got cut off. Then they had to send in another helicopter, but then that one got shot down, causing them to now have to send two rescue squads, and the whole process went on for a long time until the Pakistanis from the UN saved the US troops and they were able to evacuate.
With those thoughts in mind, we can turn our attention back to more important matters, like chips and salsa: When our chips break, and we have “Tostitos down”, what do we do? Do we send in relief in the form of another chip to get it out? Do we “leave no chip behind”? Do we wait for our allies or dining companions to get it out on their own?
But, analogies can only last so long: The primary difference between “Black Hawk Down” and “Chips and Salsa” is the fact that tragedies involving chips being lost in the salsa bowl will never turn into an Oscar-winning movie*. But I suppose that could change: Maybe Hollywood would pay attention to the tragedies in cantinas as often as they pay attention to tragedies in wars, maybe candidates will try to find solutions to the problems involving “broken chips”, maybe our generals will learn from our friends south of the border, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll live to see the day where chips and salsa are required snacks in the White House Military Situation Room.
*See, I never really bought the 9\11 or Iraq War conspiracies, but Somalia conspiracies have a bit more validity: Could it be possible, that US troops didn’t intervene in Somalia because more than 500,000 civilians had been killed, 1.5 million more made homeless by the struggle and the country was turning into a breeding ground for terror, that instead they intervened because Ridley Scott was out of movie ideas and offered George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton a percentage of the gross if they intervened (plus, maybe some movie theatre popcorn)? The facts are getting harder to deny as the truth comes out…