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!