Birth Of The Chimichanga? - Stevie's Crazy Kitchen Blog at - 234737

Stevie's Crazy Kitchen

Birth of the Chimichanga? 
May 5, 2011 9:09 pm 
Updated: May 8, 2011 6:03 am
Before I begin blabbering and getting myself in all sorts of trouble, I took a few to see what I might find on the good ol' internet...  I don't claim that what I'm about to share is carved in stone, but the folk I claim to have chatted with, I indeed have, and I am recalling a tale to the best of my aged memory.

Many a year ago, but within the past 16, I had the pleasure of meeting a man named George Romley, and his wife, known to most as "Mac."  George had owned a bar in the downtown Phoenix area, which served "bar food" to it's customer's, gratis or by purchase, I know not.  The rest of my story was told to me by one of two sources... George himself, or my mother (in George's employ at the time as housekeeper/cook/companion.) 

As I remember, George claimed the introduction of the Chimichanga to this area, more out of desperation, than planning.  After opening the bar one day, he was greatly dismayed at the abundance of remaining day old burrito's.  Not wanting to toss them, he dropped one into the deepfryer, once it had heated up.  After he had sampled this innovation, he began frying the l/o burrito's by the batch, serving them to his earliest customers of the day.

At some point, he sold this bar to his sister and brother in law, Woody and Victoria Johnson.  Some time down the road, they moved the bar to a new location, which is known as the original Macayo's Restaurant.  To give credit where it's due, it was Woody and Victoria who built what is now a multi- million dollar restaurant chain.  The company is still family owned, and prior to his death, Woody still stopped by the home office daily, and often one of the restaurants!  

While I can't say for sure that I met Woody, I most certainly did Victoria... we exchanged pleasantries at their home on Camelback Mountain, days I would pick mom up for her "day off, now in the employ of Victoria.  The history of my first hand meetings with these good people, were all brought about after a dear friend/client of mine (who worked at the first Macayo's for more than 30yrs,) arranged for mom to work for first George and Mac, and later Victoria, when she decided that it was time for her to have a "live-in," moving mom to the employ of the Johnson's.  Woody eventually passed away, and at some point mom came "home," as she was no longer needed by Victoria.     

As I stated at the beginning, I did a quick double check to cover my "posterior," and discovered that there are differing opinions as to the beginnings of the "Chimi."  Chronalogically, Wikipedia says that the Chimichanga was born in Tucson in 1922, OR at "George's Ole" in Phoenix in the early 1920's (George Romley's bar?) OR later by Woody in the mid 40's at Macayo's, OR one of a couple other theories...  So, my point is, the Macayo Empire may well have been the birth of the Chimichanga, whether it having been George, or Woody, who first dropped one of those pesky day old burrito's into a hot deep fryer!

So, have ya figured it out yet?  Drat, just dawned on me I forgot a pitcher of Margarita's, but guess the day's not done here yet!  Anyway, I put together 3 chicken burro's, fried one (for me...) and served them with sour cream, salsa, green onions, EXTRA sharp cheddar, paired with a side salad.  Yumm!  I just love the crunch of a chimi, despite it's beginnings being somewhat of a great debate!

Sadly, the "senior" generation of Macayo's have all passed on, and my dear friend Terry finally retired last summer, moving to Colorado (brrrr) to be near her daughter's family.

Regardless, this is my story, told to me by (if I remember correctly,) George Romley himself!  Sometimes, in retrospect, I'm amazed at some of the events I've been witnessed, or the folk I've met along the way... 

Till next time, be well, be happy, be crazy!
May 6, 2011 2:32 am
wow Stevie ...nice story, i had no idea where they came from, but i like them so much, hope you had a nice day, sounds like you did, be well friend... Judy
Warren Clement 
May 6, 2011 12:31 pm
Besides the question, was this review helpful? There should be the question, was this review not helpful? I hate it when people review a recipie and say that they changed so many things and then give it 5 stars. Review and comment on the recipie as originally printed.
May 6, 2011 12:36 pm
hey warren i think you commented in the wrong place, this is a blog...hope this helps you
May 6, 2011 8:45 pm
Warren, personally I don't think that I've EVER rated a recipe, as I do often mix 2-3together cuz that sounds good! Think maybe Judy's correct, as there's nothing in the above re: a posted recipe...
May 8, 2011 6:03 am
Stevie, looks like someone made a mistake here. As a matter of fact I left a comment regarding your story about the chimichanga and it's not showing up. Did it the day you posted! I enjoyed your story of the creation of this dish very much.
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Stevie crazycook

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Lansing, Michigan, USA
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About Me
Started cooking many years ago, and learned as I went. First meal may have been "steak & chips" at age 15, in Birmingham England, where I lived for several years. Mostly grew up in MI, transplanted to the desert 30yrs ago, or so. Favorite cookbook is "Better Homes", also enjoy "Great British Cooking, a well kept secret." Hesitate to call myself "expert," but friends do rave...
My favorite things to cook
Italian has been my "specialty" for some time, and my "signature" meal is Lasagne, salad, garlic bread, which I first made 20yrs ago... from SCRATCH, very first time I made it. (Never again, folks...) Now start with a big jar of sauce!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Thanks to my heritage, I have enjoyed trying foods from different cultures. We still have beer battered fish, and chips of course; ground meat dishes often, chicken occasionally, pork too. I would love to submit a bean dip recipe, however, my ex who gave me the original has passed, and I have no way to verify that it didn't come from another source! I also enjoy British cooking (with a few yankee twists) and once made Plum puddings, also known as Christmas puddings, as far as I know... what an ordeal that was, but well worth the effort. Today, there is mail order!
My cooking triumphs
Greatest triumph was not too long ago, when I held a sit down dinner for 12, Lasagne being the entree. It was a fund raiser I chose to sponsor, and am proud to say that "we" raised over $1000 from that meal alone, minimum donation being $25. All proceeds collected were donated; my partner and I provided the meal and beverages.
My cooking tragedies
MEATLOAF of all things! Went through a stage of "winging" it each time, and I pulled one after another out of the oven that were almost unedible. As yet, not too big on baking... no sweet tooth here! Have dabbled, but find doughs/pastries especially difficult, perhaps as it's 90 degrees in my kitchen much of the year.
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