Come on in, friends. Pull up a chair and sit for a spell. Let’s munch on the some pizza and talk about stuff that makes us scared.
You know, spiders, ghost stories, what have you.
What’s your personal kryptonite?
I have this, uh, friend who’s only scared of three things:
3. potato salad
No biggie. Friend should be able to get by, right?
Getting by may involve avoiding a few 4th of July picnics and declining any cage diving invites, but you’re getting by nonetheless.
So imagine my friend’s surprise when she found herself confronting one of those fears. On dry land. Not a tater in sight.
Did she survive to tell? You’ll have to read on, and eat some more pizza, to find out.
It all started simply enough. A spontaneous road trip! Full tank of gas! Some good tunes! And, of course, snacks! Friend was on her way with husband and living life was good.
After a while, as one desert mesa blended into the next and the sun began to dip slowly down on the horizon, snacks made husband drowsy so friend took the wheel. Deals were struck regarding driving times and everything was peaceful as the sights sped past.
What good time friend and husband were making! And husband was readying to resume driving duty!
Which was perfect timing since friend and husband were fast approaching this bridge.
Let me tell you a little about this bridge: it hovers over a 900 foot clearance.
The Golden Gate Bridge sits 220 feet over the water. The Brooklyn Bridge reaches 135 feet. And for those of you who have spent time commuting in New York and New England, you’ll know that the Tappan Zee bridge clears 138 feet and there’s just 40 feet between the Zakim Bridge and what lies below.
The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was basically built just a hair south of Pluto.
But it’s cool: husband is going to drive over the Highest Bridge In The History Of The Intergalactic Universe, right? And friend won’t need to worry about confronting her boot-quivering, earth-shattering, body-paralyzing fear of heights. Nah. No way.
Oh! What’s this? As husband rouses and rubs his eyes, husband’s contact lenses pop out! Literally. Out the window of the speeding fast car! Lost forever! Guess husband can’t drive over the Highest Bridge In The History Of The Intergalactic Universe! Guess friend will have to do it!
No biggie, right?
Apologies to the backup that stretched into Texas as friend drove at 2.6 MPH over said bridge.
Apologies for the three tee shirts that were sweated through, the ten gallons of tears that were shed, and the $31.50 in quarters that were donated to the Family Swear Jar as friend drove over said bridge.
And, of course, apologies for the ten Tlayuda Oxaqueñas that friend self-soothed with as soon as she arrived home. Mexican ‘pizzas’ like these are the best kind of comfort food. You should make one for yourself the next time you have to confront one of your biggest fears. If Mexican pizza can help my, uh, friend work through her boot-quivering, earth-shattering, body-paralyzing fear of heights, I’m pretty sure it’ll cure whatever’s ailing you.
Tlayuda Oaxaqueña (Mexican Pizza)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1/2 c. white onion, diced
1 c. black beans, cooked
1/2 tsp. cumin, ground
1/2 tsp. black pepper, ground
1/2 tsp. oregano, dried, ground
2 c. Oaxaca cheese, shredded, divided (Oaxaca cheese is a mild, creamy, string cheese named after the region of Mexico in which it originated. The closest equivalent is mozzarella, which can be substituted here if you don’t have access to Oaxaca cheese.)
1 1/2 c. tomatoes, chopped
1 c. avocado, chopped (I immediately tossed my chopped avocado with 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to keep it from browning – you may opt to skip this step.)
1 large flour tortilla (Tlayudas are traditionally made with enormous fresh tortillas that are prepared specifically for this dish and can reach up to 16″ in diameter. You can, by all means, make your own tortilla as the base for this ‘pizza’, but I went for a flour version that measured approximately 12″ across.)
chopped cilantro leaves to finish
Preheat oven to 450°.
Warm oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onions. Sauté until fragrant and golden, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 additional minute. Add beans, cumin, black pepper and oregano, and cook for 4 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once the mixture is cool, use a fork to mash the beans. Spread the mash evenly over the tortilla, leaving a border of approximately 1/2″ around the edges. Top the bean mixture with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and place the tortilla on a baking sheet (I opted to bake mine on my large comal, but you could also bake it on a pizza stone). Bake for approximately 8 minutes: the cheese will be melted, puffy and just turning golden, and the edges of the tortilla will have crisped and turned golden brown. Remove the baked tortilla and top the melted cheese with the tomatoes, avocado and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for just 3 minutes more. Remove top with cilantro garnish and serve immediately.
YIELD: approximately 4 servings