Darcey Anderson was puzzled by the riddle her husband, Trent Marshall, posed as they cruised north on their chartered yacht in A Shooting at Auke Bay.
“I want Mexican food when we get to Anchorage,” she announced.
“Then go to Mexico,” he said, “but don’t leave Anchorage.”
“What did he mean?” Darcey asked Robert Monk, the retired Alaska State Trooper commander who had been a friend of Trent’s dad. “Do you know?”
“He meant you should meet Maria-Elena,” Robert said.
“Maria-Elena?” Darcey repeated. “Does she have a last name?”
“She does,” Robert replied, “but you don’t need it. Maria-Elena is a legend in Alaska.”
Maria-Elena opened Mexico in Alaska in 1972. From the beginning her restaurant was a favorite of Anchorage diners.
She is known not only for the excellent Mexican food she brought to table but for her kindness and gentle disposition. One couple tells of the time their baby was acting up a bit, complicating their attempt at lunch. Maria-Elena took the baby in her arms and walked around the restaurant, comforting the child, letting the stressed parents enjoy a relaxing meal.
“Let’s go,” Darcey said, after hearing Robert’s answer to Trent’s riddle.
Maria-Elena met them with her usual warm smile. She showed them to an excellent table and personally took their order.
Robert ordered a carne deshebrada, or shredded beef taco, and beef tamal. Darcey ordered lighter fare while staying within the realm of the Mexican kitchen. A chicken salad. Mexican style.
When the large bowl was placed in front of her, Darcey said, “Now that’s a salad!”
Robert was very pleased with the taco and spicy tamal placed in front of him. The excellent quality for which Maria-Elena was known.
They left somewhat later, pleased with their meal, taking with them a container of hot salsa and a package of flour tortillas, both made in house.
Even better, Maria-Elena agreed to host a book release and signing party for A Shooting at Auke Bay on August 3rd. Let us know if you’d like to be invited! You might even meet Trent and Darcey!