"Exotic" foods from your childhood that are common now

Yes, but my parents at least appreciated spicy food. My Mom cooked a delicious curry once in a while, and liked lime pickle. We didn’t go out to dinner often, but when we did it was to the Szechuan place on edge of town.

Pfft! Sneerers be damned! Your homemade bread was far superior!

I used to get it for my Mother’s homemade hamburgers, “ewwwwww, they smell like onion! Gross!” I would smile cockily and tell them they were just jealous!

Add one more tally to Mexican. I had Taco Bell (rarely), the now defunct CiCi’s (twice), and the aformentioned at-home Old El Paso hard shells with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheddar.

Then I moved to El Paso.

“Imagine” is the operative word. Mexican restaurants are very scarce in the UK, and in Europe as a whole. For a time there was a great one when I was in Duesseldorf, and with some Mexican staff, but alas, it moved. I love Mexican food.

Huh? Unless it’s changed dramatically TGI Friday’s is a burger place along the lines of a Chili’s. I suppose it might have a few Tex-Mexish dishes- maybe chips & queso and some kind of tacos.

I don’t see them on their current menu, but they used to have fajitas and maybe some other Tex-Mex dishes. Now all I see are nachos.

Well I haven’t been to one since about 1995, and took a peek at the menu they serve now (you’re right, mainly burgers and ribs), but back in the day, certainly in the UK, you went to TGI’s for fajitas/burritos/quesadillas and the like. First time I’d ever seen refried beans (and still not sure about them). Quite disappointed that they’ve moved away from that.

The Old part of town?

Am I missing something? CiCis is a buffet pizza place in Texas and in Arkansas. Are you think of Chi Chi’s?

Not at all. I’m pretty sure neighborhood was desert until the 70s.

You are correct. Although the first time I encountered the pizza place was also in El Paso.

It has changed dramatically, they’ve had several major menu shifts. IIRC they started off as a primarily Tex-Mex place with some ‘normal’ items as well, then became a regular ‘American sit-down chain’, and now they’re more of a steak and burger place.

There used to be a lovely place in Taos called Tequilas. We always seemed to get the waiter that looked like he was straight out of Cervantes. They had the upper-crust Mexican food, like a la Diabla (camarones in a nice hot sauce). Not your Taco Hell crap. Oddly, when we tried a place with the same name in Glenwood Springs, the brought me a Negra Modelo in a salt-rimmed glass with a lime – why would you do that with a dark beer?

Another thing that was uncommon when I was a lad was the squid. Everyone has it now, and all the places on the Oregon coast do it so well. I fail to understand why so many decent restaurants can only find cooks who turn it into hard rubber.

I remember when our area got its first Thai restaurant in probably the mid-1990s. It was a big deal. The local paper wrote a whole long article about it, with a guide on how to pronounce the names of the dishes, and tips like “don’t worry, Thai food doesn’t have to be spicy; you can ask them to adjust the spice level.”

Interestingly, I heard on some NPR show (maybe it was The Splendid Table) that it’s no accident that Thai food has exploded in popularity in recent decades. The Thai government has actually been promoting Thai restaurants around the world by training Thai chefs and helping them open restaurants in Western countries. Their hope is that by promoting Thai culture in the West it will spur more tourism to Thailand.

Unless Chili’s has changed dramatically (I probably haven’t been to one in over a decade), I’ve never thought of them as a “burger place”. Yes, they have some burgers on the menu, but that’s not really what you go there for. The flagship items that they promote are the ribs and the fajitas. And I’d often get a grilled chicken dish there. I probably have had their burgers a few times when I used to go there, but as I recall the majority of their menu was stuff other than burgers. I always thought Chili’s was a sort of pseudo Tex-Mex place with some other American items on the menu (like the ribs).

Ham that didn’t have to be soaked in the bathtub for a few days to get the salt out of it. (Virginia)

Most of one aisle of the grocery store was given over to various frozen juice concentrates. Now it’s all you can do to find them.

Soy sauce. I remember my mother bringing home a pile of various ingredients in a “kit” she bought to make “Chinese” food. I especially remember the slimy canned bean sprouts. I can’t even eat fresh ones to this day. But the “soy sauce” was just brown salt water. The first time I had the good stuff it was a revelation.

Anyone remember when your apple choices at the supermarket were:
red delicious, golden delicious, Granny Smith, and (maybe) Macintosh?

The modern produce section as a whole is full of stuff you would have most likely have to go to an ethnic market for (cilantro, ginger, jicama, etc).

We had a bing cherry and a granny smith tree in the back yard. I got to liking the snap of those apples (which my brother also turned into cider, using a burlap bag and his #32 Louisville Slugger) but was not a huge fan of the cherries. It was not until a couple decades ago that I discovered the delightful Rainier cherries.

In the 1950s as far as I can recall it was pretty much just Macintosh. When I first had Delicious apples I thought they were ambrosia. (Now I think they are too soft.) Granny Smiths were still decades in the future.

I love Rainier Cherries! Their texture and taste is heavenly!