Mom and I did go off to old Plano. Neither of us had been there in years, a decade or more, perhaps? It is now called the Plano Arts District and I admittedly saw more construction than arts, but remain happy that a few of the old buildings have remained. It is a tiny district, only a few blocks sandwiched between old the old and the new.
One part of the Texas mythology has always been about the possibility of starting over, of remaking oneself, but there is also a danger of plastering over the past, of tearing it down and rebuilding, or relegating it to the forgotten. We all suffer from this tendency, from the grandiosity of human ambition, desire, intent.
But wait, that is not where I am going with this post. I am happy that there is a small bit of the old center of Plano remaining, even as it is, in a small bubble surrounded by offices and condos, at least serviced by a metro stop. Admittedly I didn't go looking for history. I wanted to go to Dude Sweet Chocolate, which, in a twist that made me laugh, was closed. We wandered in some charming gift shops, one with a charming display of construction-paper boxes, which would be a perfect home wrapper for a special gift, another with beautiful rustic antique furniture.
We ate at Urban Rio, which we liked. I liked the urban/rustic blending in the decor and the staff were cheerful and helpful. We started with guacamole, as Mom as is our wont. We are both people who could make a lunch simply of guacamole. The assumption was that we would move on to tacos and/or an enchilada plate, but alas no. We ended both ended up with shrimp-stuffed broiled avocados. Wonderful but a bit of an excess of avocado, even for proclaimed avocado lovers.
I took a picture of our main course as well, but decided that I could't make it look like anything but a hot mess even though the plate was artfully arranged. The avocados were topped with a delicious cloud of fried golden fried onion threads, which were delicious (and gluten-free!) and I was too busy diving into that mess to bother with trying to set up a more attractive picture. In some ways, for me at least, and the way I think, the time spent messing with the photo is time spent missing the experience, leaving a bubble of memory, like the bubble of old Plano. But I know this is not true for everyone. There are talented photographers, people for whom the act of documenting enhances the experience, and their art enhances observation and memory for all of us. But I am not in that league.
My last night in the Dallas area we went south. Plano-Garland-Richardson are north of the city and mom rarely ventures far afield. El Ranchito has been a favorite of my youngest brother's as long as I can remember, perhaps as long as he has been living and working in the Dallas area.
It has been well over 20 years since Nick first brought us here, and it must have been more or less a decade since my last visit. The space of course has expanded and changed over time, but it is also still obviously the same space, with wonderful food that reminds me of the first time I visited. There is still that mix of Mexican and Tex-Mex regional specialties. Mom had a traditional plate, but I longed for food I rarely see and almost ordered the cabrito. Goat meat is available in Tennessee and so, perhaps is cabrito, very young goat roasted whole. I haven't looked. Last night I had the mollejas, I believe the first dish I ever ordered at El Ranchito, and perhaps the same dish I had at my last visit, just as good now as it was then.
If it sounds like I have been eating my way across Dallas, your assumption may be correct. I am stuffed. It is a good thing, perhaps, that I don't like to eat before flying.