We all have those places. Those places where the drinks are always colder, the food always better and the company always more fun than anywhere else.
If you're like me, those are the places you don't get to often enough, which just makes everything seem that much better when you do. It doesn't always make sense - Chinese food is Chinese food, should taste the same everywhere, but it doesn't always - but your memory can be an awfully good seasoning at times.
Our annual newcomers guide, which published in Sunday's paper, made me think of those places. One of the features that accompanied each city in the guide was a section called "hidden gems." That term can apply to anything, but with me most everything usually comes back to food.
So I got to thinking about the places I like to go when I visit home and the lengths I go to visit them. If your family is like mine, it's pretty tough getting away once the circus is in full tilt. There's not a lot of freelancing going on, so you've got to be quick on your feet to take advantage of any openings in "the plan."
My idea last time I visited home was to implement my own plan before arriving, thus ensuring I wouldn't get stymied by "the plan." So when my plane landed I headed straight for the place I (and my stomach) had been dreaming about during the flight.
It helped that Taco Gringo was on the way to my aunt's house. And it helped that my plane was a little early, so that I wasn't expected yet. It was a great plan indeed, and I was very proud as I collected my meal - something called a super sancho - and drove away.
Feeling a little guilty, and more than a little sure I wouldn't be able to hide the super sancho once I got to my aunt's house, I called ahead to tell them I was on the way. That's when I decided to tell my mom where I had been, confessing my food sin.
That's when my mom decided to tell me she had been to Taco Gringo 30 minutes earlier and already had a super sancho. I had been sold out by the person I had sold out. And I learned that while blood is thicker than water, a super sancho is thicker than both.
As we sat at the kitchen table laughing about the dietary double-crossing, another relative entered the house, said hello, and saw me finishing my lunch. It didn't take her long to figure out what I was eating.
"Is that a super sancho?" she said, laughing loudly. "I just finished one out in the car. I didn't want to eat it in front of everyone."
It was pretty funny, and we all had a good laugh. But even that story couldn't top the meal.
E-mail Todd Cline at email@example.com. His column appears on Tuesdays.