News: Soldiers seek authentic cuisine
Story by Sgt. Ida Irby
EL PASO, Texas - Food trends come and go, in this day and age, soldiers visit new eateries of almost every ethnicity, yet do they get that true authentic taste and nostalgia of the culture.
Because Fort Bliss is in the heart of the city, service members are a recipient of the specificity of Mexican cuisine - that is present in the region – which highlights the traditions of the people and the history of the city.
Since Viva, ay que rico! opening 3 years ago, service members in the Fort Bliss community have returned to the authentic Mexican eatery. Translated in english, the restaurant would be called, "Hooray, oh how tasty it is!"
With the New Year abreast, this restaurant prepares to compensate for the influx of customers, that many to include the local service members.
The authentic flavors and recipes will stay the same so each person experiences the same traditional Mexican flavor. Not everything is the same, though. Restaraunt Manager Sunshine Salas comments that she hopes to add Mexican rice and cheesy quesadillas to the menu.
"Usually, during lunch the restaurant is packed with soldiers," said Salas, as she looked around the seating area filled with seven soldiers dressed in digital print uniform.
"Eating here is affordable and the food is prepared fast," said 2nd Lt. Bradly Klusman, after he paid less than three dollars for a shredded beef and bean burrito.
Viva serves a signature freshly made casera, a Mexican style flour tortilla.
“We serve Mexican house-made burritos made with many fresh toppings, and a traditional crispy-thin casera,” said Salas.
Hispanic food is about authenticity; toppings like lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream are not regionally authentic and therefore are not added to the recipes.
With all the marketing available to the modern businessman, this restraint will keep rolling on word of mouth. This is how Klusman, a native of Baton Rouge, La., decided on lunch along with three soldiers from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. Klusman ate his first burrito from Viva after being in El Paso for six months.
"The quality and price of my meal far exceeded my expectation,” said one of the four soldiers from the 11th ADA Brigade. “The restaurant itself has a friendly, dedicated, incredibly hard-working staff. Long live the burrito.”