La Du­ranguense, ex­plod­ing the palate one spice at a time

GA Voice - - Eating My Words -

I’m a chile head—one of those peo­ple who can’t get enough spicy food in his mouth. I wasn’t re­ally born that way. It’s like any other ad­dic­tion. Once you start nib­bling on mild jalapeños and chile con carne, it’s not long be­fore you’re dous­ing all your food with Sriracha, then send­ing plates of Thai food back to the kitchen be­cause it’s not suf­fi­ciently fiery. Mild jalapeños piss you off.

On a re­cent Fri­day night, my friend Brian in­sisted my reg­u­lar din­ing group sam­ple the rel­a­tively mild food at

Ta­que­ria la Du­ranguense (365 Pat Mell Road SE, Ma­ri­etta, 404-966-9480).

I nor­mally won’t con­sider a drive to the hin­ter­land of Ma­ri­etta for a meal, but Brian raved per­sis­tently. He was right. It’s an amaz­ing lit­tle dive whose name ap­par­ently refers to a type of mu­sic from the Mex­i­can state of Du­rango.

So, be warned. The only at­mos­phere here is oxy­gen and the smell of mildly spicy stews. If you love vinyl table­cloths topped with rolls of pa­per tow­els, you’re go­ing to love this place as soon as you walk through the door. It’s lo­cated in a run-down strip cen­ter in a neigh­bor­hood that is heav­ily pop­u­lated by Lati­nos. And the woman be­hind the counter who takes your or­der (and cooks) speaks mono­syl­labic English.

Hap­pily for you, there’s noth­ing on the brief menu, posted on the wall, that isn’t ad­dic­tive. It’s the kind of food that ini­ti­ates a crav­ing to go back and back again. The only thing avail­able is gordi­tas, which trans­lates as “lit­tle fat­ties.” Imag­ine thin pocket bread made of masa (corn flour), grid­dled un­til slightly crispy, and then stuffed with all man­ner of in­gre­di­ents.

I was ex­cited—very ex­cited—to see one of my fa­vorite Mex­i­can dishes. I’m talk­ing about chichar­rón, which are fatty pieces of pork skin. Typ­i­cally, they are fried to make what we call “pork rinds,” folded into tor­tillas and topped with salsa. But they are also fried and then stewed in green or red salsa un­til they are ten­der. Usu­ally I pre­fer the slightly sour green ver­sion, but I have to say Du­ranguense’s red ver­sion has more com­plex fla­vor and spici­ness. It’s mild! But you can add hot sauce.

I also sam­pled an ovo-lacto-veg­e­tar­ian

(Photo via Face­book) op­tion—ra­jas con queso. Ra­jas are strips of charred poblano pep­pers (whose pi­quancy varies) and queso is the clas­sic white cheese, some­times com­bined with heavy cream. The melt­ing cheese coats the strips with ab­surdly vel­vety tex­ture and, in fact, can tem­per a fiery pep­per with its dairy base. Another veg­etable op­tion is nopales (chunks of cac­tus), which did not make it to our ta­ble.

Un­for­tu­nately, when I vis­ited the res­tau­rant around 8:30 p.m., it had al­ready sold out of a num­ber of dishes.

Prices, by the way, are em­bar­rass­ingly low: $3 for each gordita. Two will fill any av­er­age diner, but we got three each and could barely wad­dle out the door.

Does La Du­ranguense earn any com­plaints? Two mi­nor ones. First, call­ing the res­tau­rant is use­less. When they an­swer the phone, no­body says much of any­thing and hangs up. Sec­ond, some­times the sauces can be over­whelm­ing to the de­gree that they mask the fla­vors of the meat. As hard as it is to do, eat slowly and give your tongue a chance to fully ex­plore the in­gre­di­ents. You know. Like sex.

Cliff Bo­s­tock, PhD, is a long­time At­lanta food critic and for­mer psy­chother­a­pist who now spe­cial­izes in col­lab­o­ra­tive life coach­ing (404-518-4415), www.cliff­bo­

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.