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By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Column: Taco Tuesday

 

April 14, 2021



The other day I heard someone on a television show mention “Taco Tuesday.” This not only made me hungry, but it also made me take a trip down memory lane to my time in high school.

I was never a huge fan of high school, but one thing I did thoroughly enjoy was leaving campus for lunch. 

There are school districts throughout the country that produce some really high-quality food but let’s say that mine was far from one of them.

Another reason I could not wait for lunchtime was the social structure of the cafeteria, although I’m sure it was probably not as bad as I remember. However, I am still haunted by how the room was separated, akin to a super cheesy teenage coming of age movie where someone continually knocks trays onto the ground.

I never had a car in high school, so I was always really nervous on the first day of school to see who I would have lunch with. My high school was big enough to be split into three lunch periods and until the first day of school, I would never know if I would be able to leave campus. During my sophomore year, I was not very lucky, and other than a few times when I wandered up the street to my grandparents’ house, I had to fight it out with the cafeteria’s social Olympics.

When my junior year rolled around, I was lucky to get lunch with my friend Jeff who just so happened to have a car and hated staying on campus. We didn’t have a long lunch period, but we had enough time to go to four or five places.  

We would generally start the week with a trip to a little diner called Grub’s. To this date, this is my absolute favorite burger, and I find myself craving it all the time. Whenever I make the seven-hour journey home, it is one of my first stops, and I’m not ashamed to admit that if I’m in town for three days, I’ll eat there twice. I almost flunked high school math because I got a tardy every time we ate at Grub’s, but we eventually learned to call in our order, and they would have it on the counter as we walked in.

During the week, we’d also venture to a place called Ben’s Foodliner. It was an old-school grocery store that made the absolute best Kielbasa in the world onsite. It’s now completely a restaurant and specialty store serving the same stuff, but at the time was just a little lunch counter, and it was our hidden gem.

Depending on how much money my mom gave me, we’d also have to eat smart sometimes, and a quick trip on the “belt loop” would take us to the now-closed OJ’s Market where you could eat cheap. I could get the “three strips and two logs” with a side or ranch for $2 bucks, and it was so great. Fast forward a few years later, I tried to order a “log” and was informed they were called “jo jo’s” in the rest of the world. The homemade ranch was always room temperature and had been sitting on the counter for possibly weeks, but it didn’t matter because it tasted amazing, and it was only $2.

And finally, there was always “taco Tuesday”.

Each and every Tuesday, we would make the short trip to Taco John’s for really cheap tacos.

I fully understand that Taco John’s is not real authentic Mexican food, but that does not stop me from loving it. In fact, I have a sister that lives in Los Angeles with some of the best Mexican food in the world, and she still makes Taco John’s her first stop when she goes home.

The best thing about “Taco Tuesday” is I enjoyed the food, and I could get a lot of it if I had $5. I could eat so much that I was on the borderline of getting sick. But I didn’t care. At that age, I could eat probably two times my weight and it would not matter.

If I ate 10 Taco John’s tacos in 2021, I might as well do it while on the toilet because that is where I would be headed to in a matter of moments anyway.

I recently read that Taco John’s actually has the copyright for “Taco Tuesday, “ which made me smile.

 The company that started in Wyoming was such an essential part of high school for me, and my belly started something pretty awesome!

Maybe next Tuesday, I might head to Bozeman on Tuesday and straight to Taco John’s.

 

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