At the end of my mom's and my twelve-hour drive to Fargo last Sunday, three central clues made us realize we'd made it to North Dakota--a state neither one of us had ever set foot in:
1. There was a friendly sign.
2. The land seemed to get somehow flatter, slightly oranger, and to have fewer of Minnesota's famed "10,000 lakes".
3. The Mexican food sounded even less authentic.
In retrospect, #1 was probably evidence enough. Also in retrospect, #3 was a pretty difficult test for North Dakota to pass given that somewhere a little after St. Paul, we passed up the opportunity to dine at "Taco Gringo". Our first hint of the quality of North Dakotan Mexican fare came from a radio program advising us on how to cook a goose (our second hint was the sighting of several Taco John's, which you'd think the original John could have at least name Tacos de Juan or something):
Goose Expert: One thing about geese, you will probably have leftovers.
Radio Host: Hmm. What do you suggest for goose leftovers?
GE: I often make tacos.
RH: And what do you put on your goose tacos?
GE: Oh, the usual. Lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, pickles.
And that is when I learned that if asked if I want everything on my taco, I need to specify, "Please, hold the pickles."