The other day I was invited to have some homemade tacos with my man Tony and his girlfriend Lauren. Because I am constantly surrounded by New York’s legions of newly-minted “foodies” who generally insist on overpriced meals in uncomfortably loud settings, having two friends cook me some tacos in their apartment sounded like a refreshing change of pace.
Little did I know I would be getting more than just tacos; it turned out that Lauren had caught wind of the great Nacho Quest and decided to offer up her own plate for appraisal. Needless to say, I did not want to dispense “marks out of ten” on the spot—my mother taught me better than that. Really, I was just touched by the gesture. Genuine acts of hospitality are rare amongst today’s twentysomethings, and it struck me that nachos are the ultimate food to offer to a guest to make him feel welcome. Everyone digs in together, and any daintiness quickly fades into the obscurity when you’re holding a chip dripping with beans, cheese, and guac.
Throughout the mythology of ancient Greece, hospitality is held in the highest esteem. Back then, people were always knocking about on the open road, trying to get to the Olympics by foot or deliver messages to kings who lived miles away. When these travelers came upon a hut or farmhouse, they could always expect a warm fire and a hearty meal at very least. These days, the advent of air travel, hotels, and restaurants has transformed the way people think about hospitality—it lacks the urgency of Odysseus’ day, but perhaps because of this fact, small gestures make all the difference.
Lauren’s nachos epitomized the height of modern hospitality, and they made me realize something: Though our quest to find the best nachos in the world inherently requires a assessment of quality, nachos will always be appreciated. It’s never really about final “grade.”
For that important epiphany, I will thank Lauren by not grading her nachos 😉