ethel’s words

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LA MORENA CAFE

Who could forget La Morena Cafe? Aroma with laughter and greetings in every mode--yells, waves, hushed calls, and table-hopping.

At La Morena even a needed meal became a festive celebration. It was the food, the fragrance, the friendliness, that wiped away class and age. Mayors and Commissioners (even a Governor) were seen at La Morena along with the poor who had to “save up” for the dinner.

There was little of what some would call “ambience”. Though the creative ones would see ambience in the “raw” ceiling--mainly struts but some areas had solid ceiling where cooking was done. The rafters were great for hanging the dangling decorations--the... the... --how could I forget the word? even after more than forty years? (Of course I’ve seen many since then.)

I don’t remember much about floors--but one large space had floors that invited dancing--at least, they accommodated dancing.

But most of us went there for the broiler-hot platters with arroz y frijoles and bubbling hot cheese--a loaded platter with enchiladas or rellenos or burritos. How did we eat it all--down to the last shred of lettuce? Oh, yes, the bottomless bowl of salsa and hillock of tortilla chips, and on rare--too rare--occasions, there were sopapillas, dripping with honey-butter accompanied by squeals and laughter. And never-failing excellent coffee.

Exactly what made it unique?--never to be duplicated?

Partly, Fil and Vera Salazar: Fil the fleet-footed, the smiling, the exuding total good will and “all's well with the world”. Father Gerald Merrill, total serenity, smoking his pipe. All that and unexcelled food, too. All was well in that world.

Ethel C. Hale