Michael Aaron has gnawed at me for years to turn in my column before deadline … or turn it in at all. (Sorry!) He has had to lay out the column in sections other than food, for fear of offending advertisers. (Again, sorry.) He has dealt with restaurateurs, angry that my column disparaged their ‘cuisine’. (Only kinda sorry.) Michael has been an incredible editor — allowing his writers to come and go and cover gay culture with carte blanche. As a publisher, he has also been a salmon swimming upstream but never stopped fighting to bring this community together.
I’m at Beerhive Pub, looking onto Main Street, and you can always tell a Goldman Sachs guy. I’m convinced that Sachs is hiring based on looks. They are dressed two shades better than anyone else on Main and in the same perfectly tailored trademark blue pants. I’m sure Utah is Goldman’s MTC — most of them have the same air of superiority and urgency. I wonder where they eat? If they eat?
I’m eating a vegetarian burrito. Scarfing it down, really. Feeling a bit insecure as I celebrate a birthday, which firmly stakes me in my 40s. Should I have another glass of wine with this burrito? If I’d tried harder in my 20s, could I be working for Goldman Sachs? Should we have had kids? The question is immediately answered when a family tries to enter the Beerhive with a tween. They don’t get in. The parents’ faces say it all, “Why do we have kids?”
This burrito is from La Estación Del Taco, the taco cart planted on Main and 100 South, in front of the old Zions Bank. The burrito is filled with red, green, and orange grilled bells and squash with rice, refried beans, and cheese. The fluffy flour tortilla is so stuffed, it tests the tensile strength. It’s the size of a small baby, but tastes better.
A couple of days after Pride, a few remnants of the weekend are still strewn about — a couple of tourists, a woman with a pink triangle shirt, a rainbow flag at a bar that I know doesn’t like gays. A homeless man whose butt I’ve seen too many times meanders by with his pants about to fall. Time moves so slow in this heat.
Sylvia owns the taco cart. When she is not prepping the best asada or carnitas, she’s reading the Bible. She continued setting up the cart during the Pandemic and fed the homeless and skateboarders. That’s about all there were down here. Through her red and green (limited quantity) tamales, I slowly got to know her and fell in love. She recently told me that her son called her.
“Do you know what he said?”
“He’s gay?” I guessed.
He lives in Mexico City but was going to visit Salt Lake with a partner. “I’ve seen the way you and your friends are, and I’m going to love him the same.” Her English is better than my Spanish, but I think this is what she said.
A few minutes later, Rayaan orders a taco al pastor. He works at Goldman Sachs. I had met him a few days earlier at Oh Shucks. He’s a cute young kid from India. On the sidewalk, I tell him my theory on Sachs guys wanting to leave SLC, and with a firm accent, he says, “You are right, but I love it here. Utah is beautiful.”
Over the next few days, I see Rayaan (who is straight) with his friends, going to a Pride event, coming out of a restaurant, returning from a climb. I never see him in blue.
There are many morals to this story, most of which will fade away and I will have to re-learn. Sachs guys don’t always wear blue, is one. I am sentimental that we did not adopt. Sylvia’s tacos are magical, made with love, and bring strangers together.
And, finally, thanks for letting me write what I want, Michael — what a gift.
La Estación Del Taco, 125 South Main, Salt Lake City
Tamales $2.50, Tacos $2.00, Veggie Burrito $7.00