eating with old friends

It had been a long time since I had seen my friends together.

This summer was a constant carnival of new faces and loved ones. I have a thousand flashing memories in my mind. However,  until a couple of weeks ago, there was no quiet. No calm. No chance to let down my guard and just be.

Yesterday, I spent the day with my dear friends Tita and Meri. I met Tita 19 years ago, three days before I began my first teaching job. By the end of the conversation next to her green-metal filing cabinet, we were friends. We created an American Studies program at that high school and taught side by side for five years. She has known me through that awkward time of my late 20s, my time in New York, the craziness of London, the reunion years of my being back in Seattle, the sick years before I was diagnosed with celiac, meeting Danny, Lucy in the ICU, and every day since. We only had one non-family member in the hospital room just after Lu was born: Tita.

I cannot think of a single topic of conversation we have not covered together, mostly while walking or holding cups of coffee in our hands. She is the wisest woman I know.

Meri and I met the first day of my working at the College Board in New York. It was my first and last office job. I only made it six months before I had to flee that cubicle life. Meri I kept. We lived in apartments across the hall from each other when we both moved to Seattle from New York in 2001. We were like a sitcom, cooking together and talking about anything that arose. I brought her to Tita and John’s house for dinner and we all became friends together. She moved back to New York the day after she was a bridesmaid in my wedding. (I did not make her wear an awful dress.) She met Danny before I did — she went to his restaurant months before our coffee date; she loved the food — and loves him dearly now. And she now has the love of her life, the year before she turned 45. She is alive.

I love these women more than words will ever say.

Yesterday, we all needed a day together. Meri was in from New York for a business trip. Tita and I hopped a morning ferry and opened our arms wide to hug her at the end of the dock.

We didn’t do much yesterday. We ate a leisurely breakfast together. We went shopping at our favorite thrift stores in West Seattle. We drove around talking.

We stopped for tamales and tacos.

There’s something wonderfully exciting about new friends, the rush of stories we have never told each other, the worlds that open up by talking.

However, yesterday? (and for awhile.) I just want to spend time with the people who have known me through every wave of my life and still want to swim to shore.

There is no happiness like sharing a bowl of chips and guacamole with people who have known you for a long, long time.


Yesterday, Tita and Meri and I ended up at a Tacos Guaymas in Burien. It’s a small chain of restaurants in Seattle, taquerias actually. No one is writing this place up in magazines. However, they make everything from scratch, use no MSG, additives, or ingredients whose name  you cannot pronounce. Meri loved the tongue taco. Tita loved the tamales. I love the fact that every time I go to a Taco Guaymas, I eat safely. Mexican food is mostly gluten-free, naturally. It’s not hard to avoid. Cross-contamination isn’t rife. This meal was made so much better by the fact I didn’t have to worry about growing sick. 


26 comments on “eating with old friends

  1. CL

    “There is no happiness like sharing a bowl of chips and guacamole with people who have known you for a long, long time.” – I couldn’t agree more!!

  2. laura

    just this past weekend i had a very similiar experience….in seattle in fact! amazing women coming together to reconnect and just “be” together. one in seattle, two(myself included)from wisconsin and one from new york. amazing how refreshing and needed those constant friends can be. and i admit that although i will always be a wisconsin girl at heart….a bit of me fell head over heels for seattle! 🙂

  3. LMS

    I enjoyed reading this post so much. It made me miss the people in my life “who have known me through every wave of my life.” That’s exactly how it feels. Thanks for sharing–and the food looks so yummy!

  4. Sarah

    I’m new to gluten free…and currently undergoing testing for Celiac. I was wondering if you could enlighten me as to what foods at a Mexican restaurant are considered “safe”?

    1. shauna

      Sarah, I wouldn’t say that any food at a Mexican restaurant is always safe. Or any restaurant, for that matter. I ALWAYS ask. I always say what I need. I make sure that what I order is absolutely going to be gluten-free. However, at a Mexican place it’s a good bet that there will be tacos on corn tortillas you might be able to eat. Tamales. Beans. Rice. Chips can definitely be a problem, if they fry their own chips and anything with flour has been fried in that oil. (Yesterday, I was lucky. They had only fried chips in that oil.) It’s important for everyone to advocate for him or herself. But it’s possible to eat well and safely at a Mexican restaurant.

    2. Karen

      Traditional enchilada sauce uses flour for a thickener, so be careful with those. Also, as Shauna says, chips are a problem if fried in the same oil as flour torillas or soapapillas.

  5. Terry

    “…spend time with the people who have known me through every wave of my life and still want to swim to shore.” Oh how I love this.

  6. cari

    Except here in MN where they fry the corn chips in the same fryer at the flour tortilla’s and use a grated cheese that has wheat flour cut into it to prevent clumping. I would die for some some safe mexican food in my neck of the woods. Nothing beats a meal with kindred spirits and I am glad you finally had a day to yourself with these two!

    1. shauna

      Ack! I thought all the companies changed the flour in grated cheese to potato starch instead. we definitely have to be wary of the tortilla chips in the same fryer, however.

  7. julie

    You deserve a break doing what ever your heart needs and wants every so often I am so glad to read about your good friends and support you have in life and all the curves it has thrown at you. Thank you for this friends moment glimpse and to remind me I am also rich in blessings with home and friends and more than I need and some of my wants.

    1. AmandaonMaui

      West Seattle is quite awesome. If I lived up there, I think we’d move either back to Vashon or to West Seattle. The commute to my boyfriend’s work would be hell (Bellevue), but he would be able to carpool with one of his best friends. 🙂

  8. Sara McHanson

    I absolutely love this, and it’s for those reasons my family is drawn to mexican places for our out of the house meals! Oooh, it makes me long for Seattle again. (PS. Cari- has excellent resources for what restaraunts do what and have what for the GF community in MN. They’ve become a survival guide for my family!)

  9. aseafish

    I loved reading this, as well. I do so look forward to a time when I will feel comfortable eating out again. I’m not there yet. No matter how explicit I am with what I need, I’m still terrified. I love to read and share others’ adventures, though.

  10. AmandaonMaui

    Oh! I loved Tacos Guaymas. The one in West Seattle is where I ate with my friends the last night I was up there. It was magical to be with all those lovely ladies again. It was also awesome to finally introduce them so they could become friends as well, and they did! They did tell me that they don’t fry their chips themselves, that they buy them. That made me feel a bit better, because if they fried them themselves there would be that chance of cross contamination. I had the fish tacos. The place reminds me of a place here called Maui Tacos, which is unfortunately no longer safe for me. I get sick every time.

  11. The Chatty Housewife

    Recently I found out that the Mexican rice I usually eat has a little bit of flour in the broth they use to make it. “Just to thicken it a bit” they said. So now I order white rice instead and smother it with pico de gallo so it tastes Mexican. 🙂 Be careful!

  12. gluten free gift

    Another food that is AMAZING for us is the AREPA (not Mexican… but further down in South America).

    While they CAN be made from wheat, they are most commonly made with corn. I only discovered them last year on a trip to San Francisco. I thought I’d gone to heaven. Imagine my delight when I discovered a place called Arepa here in Toronto – where pretty much everything in sight is gluten-free! Yippeeee!!!!

  13. Sarah

    There are very few greater blessings than true, long and lasting friendship. Nice to be reminded of that fact, reading your post. Thanks.

  14. Coach Laura

    Shauna, I get the best Seattle ideas from you …and today from your reader.

    I had no idea that Tacos Guaymas would be safe. Same with El Reconsito. Both are located very close to my office so I’ll have to try them out.

    Glad you had a good time. And I didn’t comment about your egg intolerance, Shauna, but I look forward to watching you deal with it and make the most of it with your usual grace.

  15. Michele

    I just wanted to say thank you. I have two friends who are gluten intolerant and your blog has been a life saver to me! I love to cook, I love my friends, I love cooking for my friends and you have made it so easy! I am grateful for your recipes and your blog posts. It has made me view cooking in a new way and experiment with ingredients to create healthy, yummy dishes.

    Thank you.


  16. Kristin Korb

    Hey Shauna!
    I am sooooo relating right now to the need for the comfortable surroundings of old friends. Just moving to Denmark, I’m meeting so many wonderful people and experiencing a world of great food. I’m also missing my friends and looking forward to having one of those lunches in the coming months.

  17. Arlinda

    Hi Shauna: I just found your blog a few days ago and love, love, love it. All the recipes sound delicious and I can’t wait to try them out. -Arlinda PS. Tacos Guaymos is one of my favorite places!

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