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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

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The Outpost Market Cafe at Aurora Sinai Medical Center
The Outpost Market Cafe at Aurora Sinai Medical Center

A needed Outpost of healthy eating

Last week’s debut of the Outpost Market Cafe at the Aurora Sinai Medical Center is great news and I hope the start of a trend. The cafe, located in the Aurora Sinai main lobby, is being operated by Outpost Natural Foods, the co-op that owns supermarkets in Bay View, the East Side and in Wauwatosa.

 At only 225-square feet, the eatery is small, but it is giving hospital visitors, staff and the surrounding neighborhood the opportunity to grab Outpost’s made-from-scratch soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and baked goods. Hallelujah!

 I have long been amused and appalled at the dining options offered to families and friends of hospital patients. During the final three decades of his life, my father was under cardiac care that required occasional hospitalizations at several different facilities. I would be in his room when he was encouraged to eat intelligently and follow a heart-healthy diet, and then I would go in search of my lunch in the building.

 Time and again, my options were not only unappetizing. They were a bad joke of high-calorie fried and processed foods, precisely what my dad was supposed to avoid. I would usually leave the hospital for a fast food joint that almost always gave me better choices.

 Congratulations Outpost and Aurora Sinai. May your healthy partnership prosper and grow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new Ian's pizza Downtown.
A new Ian's pizza Downtown.

Ian's Pizza to open Downtown restaurant

Ian's Pizza, the Madison-based pizzeria chain that specializes in selling its product by the slice, will open a second Milwaukee location Downtown next month. Lexy Frautschy, a partner in the business, told me Ian's will open a restaurant in the old What's Fresh space at 146 E. Juneau Ave.

He said the firm has encountered some infrastructure problems in the building, but it is determined to be up and running by the time Summerfest opens. Like its first Milwaukee location, at 2035 E. North Ave., the What's Fresh space is in a popular late night bar district.

There are two Ian's in Madison and another in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago.

The Taco Bell chalupa
The Taco Bell chalupa

Where did Taco Bell and the frozen-margarita machine come from?

Bienvenidos a Mexican Dining Week on OnMilwaukee.com. This week, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, we're spicing things up with daily articles about Mexican restaurants, foods, drinks, sweets and more. Enjoy a week of sizzling stories that will leave you craving Milwaukee's Latin offerings. Olé!

While on a University of Southern California fellowship a few years back, I had a clever and entrepreneurial young colleague named Gustavo Arellano. The son of Mexican-American immigrants, he wrote a semi-satirical Q & A column for the Orange County Weekly called "Ask a Mexican." It was so wildly popular, the column became nationally syndicated and got him an appearance on "The Colbert Report."

Gustavo has a talent for observing the collision of Mexican and American cultures with a humorously critical eye, and he has now published "Taco USA," an account of how Mexican food and drink became Americanized in this country. A review of the book in the online magazine Slate said, "If you've ever wondered about the roots of Taco Bell or why fajitas are called that or who invented the frozen-margarita machine, you'll find answers here."

Read this New York Times profile of Arellano and his book.

El Matador, located in the space now occupied by BBC Bar & Grill, introduced many 1970s East Siders to Mexican food.
El Matador, located in the space now occupied by BBC Bar & Grill, introduced many 1970s East Siders to Mexican food.

Once upon a time, Milwaukeeans didn't eat Mexican food

Bienvenidos a Mexican Dining Week on OnMilwaukee.com. This week, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, we're spicing things up with daily articles about Mexican restaurants, foods, drinks, sweets and more. Enjoy a week of sizzling stories that will leave you craving Milwaukee's Latin offerings. Olé!

Growing up in Milwaukee in the 1950s and '60s was a white bread experience, with the exception of Fridays, when we ate rye bread – with our fish fries.

Flavor enhancement began and ended with salt in my family's kitchen. My mom made chili without chili powder.

Pizza was the exotic new ethnic food. Carry-out chop suey from Chinese restaurants was as gastronomically adventurous as many Milwaukeeans cared or dared to be. Our palates were being trained on generally bland European cuisines, and while some of us were eating duck blood soup or sauerbraten at home, our tastes were far from global.

Nacho, quesadilla and chimichanga were not in our vocabulary. Margarita? Must be a girl's name.

I moved from Milwaukee in 1969 without ever having seen a Mexican restaurant in my hometown. A trip to Southern California the year before had made me aware of a chain called Taco Bell, but the taco thing sounded a little dangerous. Too foreign for my tender taste buds.

Returning to Brew City from the East Coast in 1972, I discovered a Mexican restaurant had opened within a mile of my new home. I suspect that El Matador, which occupied the space now filled by BBC Bar & Grill at 2022 E. North Ave., introduced most East Siders to Mexican food. It was the lone outpost north of Walker's Point for south-of-the-border cuisine.

Operated by the Monreal family, El Matador had three locations – 6th and Bruce, 92nd and Bluemound, and the North Avenue spot. The last one closed years ago.

Coaxed into the East Side El Matador by friends, I learned that my stomach would not explode if I ate sliced jalapenos, and the gooey goodness of cheese and onion enchiladas seemed quite natural in the cheesehead …

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