What a terrible fire and a long worked-for retirement can teach us about grief and our relationship to the hospitality industry.
These lost places are anchors to communities. We identify with their product and create a certain identity with anyone else we know who patronizes these. We connect with others through our tastes and in some ways judge others who don't align with our support for these.
We gravitate around these little planets, sometimes creating deep relationships with them and those who we find in their orbit. When these are gone, we feel a bit lost, floating away from that pull we experienced. In the vastness and loneliness of this space, losing these feels very isolating. But maybe we form a small new colony, still revolving around what was left behind. More than a memory, a sentiment. A planet is gone but their memory can awaken a new culture.
Apparently Thich Nhat Hanh never had their champurrado... I will say this one falls in the category of mourning the Austin that is lost. La Mexicana was a formative venue of my early Austin experience. I would park my bike in the little breezeway and just loved how different it was from what I had experienced before... it gave me a place to practice my Spanish and a place to catch up on telenovelas on massive big screens whilst enjoying my tortas. I didn't go very frequently in recent years except to buy tortillas and barbacoa by the pound for the occasional breakfast taco bar at my house. That's kind of what these places often become... places we used to go to. I'll have to pop in there to take some photos. I just was feeling preliminarily nostalgic for the loss of the HEB of Broken Dreams so I took some photos there too. I only wish I could have done the same for Chez Nous... I can't tell you how much that loss still hurts.
I will SO miss their misnamed Ginger Snaps …. They are exactly like what my mom made for years and called Molasses Crinkles. Best ginger cookies I ever had (😋larger and more consistently moist and chewy than mother’s.)
Love and very much appreciate the theme of affirming grief, in so many contexts, for us!