Ernesto Moncada, What Are You Eating?

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Ernesto Moncada

The author, poet, improviser and actor with experimental theater ensemble Arcana Collective and The Empty Frames Experiment conducts and produces the variety show Firestage at the Firehouse every Third Friday, hosts the monthly live talk show Grand Avenue Live! at The Trunk Space, and acts as host for the Provocatease burlesque shows at The Alwun House, Joe's Grotto and other venues.

What'd you eat for dinner last night? Baked fresh salmon with asparagus, white rice and a dark beer.

Favorite food: Favorite food changes with the times and places you live through and your own personal journey as a human being. Because of this, I have mentioned pizza, pasta and even sushi as preferred foods at some point in the past. Nevertheless, maybe blood does overrule everything else and this is just my brown skin talking, but I cannot think of any other food that celebrates the glorious decadence of eating pleasure as tacos.

Least favorite food: Microwave dinners and massively produced fast food. I'd rather eat a Maruchan soup than a cheeseburger from that creepy clown.

Favorite dessert: Dark chocolate and traditional cheesecake fight for supremacy in my taste buds.

Favorite local restaurant and meal to order there: Pizzeria Bianco at Heritage Square in Downtown Phoenix, ordering spiedini for starters (Italian fontina wrapped in prosciutto di parma), with a Sonny Boy or Wiseguy pizza (adding roasted crimini mushrooms to either or both) and some red wine (preferably Chilean) to round it up.

Favorite local bar and cocktail to order there: The Lost Leaf and Bikini Lounge are great beer places, but when I think "cocktail," my mind goes to Carly's Bistro (on 2nd Street and Roosevelt), where they serve you a mean Mojito, a kick-ass Caipirinha or a metrosexy Classic Martini.

Favorite thing to cook at home: Spaghetti with tomato sauce, sautéed veggies and fresh cheese, with bread from the Phoenix Public Market and a pint of Guinness.

Favorite memory involving food: Cooking for someone special you love is always memorable, so memories of such evenings compete in my heart for my favorite food moment. Discovering cultures, countries and history through food is also important, sometimes even life-changing, and my brain can not decide which location has been most affecting, but my first thought upon the subject was of my mother's cooking--the smell of soups, meats and vegetables filling up the house like music for the nose. I miss the expectation before dinner, having to wait until everything was ready, including people expected in those seats; the wait may have made the food tastier by default, but that really did not mattered. My mom's best dish: a vegetable, rice and meat Sonoran stew called "Cocido".

Recipe or food tip to share: Those who love quesadillas (one or two tortillas with melted cheese inside, one of the easiest, cheapest and quickest Mexican dishes existing), should remember two very important things. First: A grilled, fried or toasted tortilla is always going to taste better than one that was only heated, and that applies for tacos and burritos too. Second: There is room for a lot more than just queso (or just one type of it, for that matter) in them; depending on your preferences, you can add anything your imagination and cheese allow. Some of the classic choices include mushrooms, green chile, ham, bacon, beans, salami, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage flower, artichokes, grounded beef, carne asada, etc. A quesadilla is a very accommodating option for a dynamic life-style, and it works even if you do them with vegan cheese and organic wheat tortillas.

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