Winter in the Desert - 2013 travel blog

mission complex

San Xavier Mission


another view




food truck

Sonoran hotdog

Although hotdogs are a widely known speciality of our home town Chicago, years can go by without a hotdog crossing my lips. They taste just fine, but you never quite know what's inside. But all the rules are off when we're on the road. One of the things we love best about traveling is trying the local cuisine. We read that a local speciality is Sonoran hotdogs. The hot dog is wrapped in mesquite-smoked bacon then cooked on a grill or on a griddle, then topped with beans, grilled onions, fresh onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, cream sauce, mustard and Jalapeno salsa or sauce and served on bread and often with a side fresh-roasted chili. We read that the best Sonoran dogs are served at a food truck that takes over the parking lot of a local bar that opens after the hotdogs have all been sold. Although food trucks are not usually our restaurant of choice, we had to give it a try. Although it felt a little odd to be eating at a folding table in a parking lot at a busy intersection, the hot dog was wonderful. The Mexican roll was firm and tasty and loaded with so many yummy things I almost couldn't find the hotdog. A hit!

Well fortified we headed down the road to Mission San Xavier del Bac. The mission was at the northern end of a string of missions built by the Spanish Franciscans to bring Christianity to the indians. Even today its location feels remote, located in a reservation amidst agricultural fields. Only one of the towers were completed after local ranchers refused to loan the clerics any more money. The mission church was built to attract the Indian's attention. It was amazingly rococo, bright and gaudy. If neon had been invented, the builders would have used it. Over three hundred years the excessive heat and an earthquake cracked the bricks and occasional rains seeped in. Local folk used concrete to patch the cracks and it held what little moisture there is around here and the bright decorations began to darken and flake off. A few years ago a team of experienced Italian and Spanish restoration experts spent five years here, glueing and repainting. The results were stunning. This little chapel in the middle of nowhere was as impressive as some of the major cathedrals we've seen in Europe.

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