Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Street Tortoise

Many cities have a signature food item and in San Diego it's the fish taco. The fish taco probably would win an award for the largest gap between expectation and reality, because while it sounds repulsive it's actually one of the best things ever. Like most great American foods, the fish taco originated in a different country, in this case Mexico-- Baja, Mexico specifically. The popularity of the fish taco in San Diego is largely due to a local fast food chain called Rubio's, started by a guy named Ralph Rubio who supposedly first encountered this great delicacy while on surfing trips to Baja.

In recent years Rubio's has been trying to expand, which means that in addition to lots of new locations you also get about 9 up-sell attempts with each order (would you like fries with that?) and they've expanded the menu considerably ('cause, i guess they figure that outside of the beach areas the fish taco will still sound a bit disgusting). One of their most recent items is a variation on the Mexican torta-- a sandwich more or less. They call this new item a "street torta", which refers to the fact that a torta would generally be available from a street vendor in Baja. Unfortunately, in radio ads the words "street torta sandwich" are indistinguisable from "street tortoise sandwich"; and native English speakers will, it seems, tend to hear the latter. Now, given that fish tacos are great, i have no reason to believe that a street tortoise sandwich might not also be quite fine. But i can't think of "street tortoise" without thinking of road kill, which is not a good association for a food item.

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