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Ropa Vieja


It was a long time ago. It was when our dojo was located on 15th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. We had classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights but Friday nights were just for weapons instruction. Sensei would come, with his entourage and an assortment of weapons, and teach class for hours. These were mentally and physically exhausting classes but I loved them the best. At around 9:30 or 10pm we would finally make our way over to 8th Avenue and into La Taza D'Oro.


They were always happy to see us. We would squeeze anywhere from 6 to 10 people around one of the small tables while stacking various weapons (mostly bo staffs) against the wall. Angel was young and preferred to sit at the counter and talk to the men who worked there. Sensei always had to sit with his back to the wall. 


Angel loved the rice and beans and would down a whole plate. Sensei and Ramon were partial to the conch salad. Sensei carried a bottle of Tabasco with him at all times and would apply it liberally. My ex might order the Arroz con Pollo but I always ordered Ropa Vieja, tostones and avocado salad.


We would eat and talk and laugh and eat some more. My ex craved the Tembleque but would settle for the rice pudding if that was all they had left. Finally, after we had our fill, we would gather our weapons and head out the door. Several of us would squeeze our stuffed bellies into Ramon's car (angling our staffs so they cut across the front and back seats) and he would drive us home. 


Tonight I recreated my favorite La Taza D'Oro meal. It was every bit as good as I remembered except for the absence of Sensei.


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