y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: A Taco Tribute to Gary

A Taco Tribute to Gary

Last week I got the shocking news that a dear friend, Gary Mogil, passed away. The news made me so profoundly sad and got me thinking of many things.

On a deeper level, I pondered how people impact your life in amazing ways. Gary and I met through a meetup.com event, an event I was hosting. He walked in full of light, and as anyone who knew him can attest, was the life of the party.

What I realize now is that I don't know much about Gary's life - where he grew up, about his family, what he does for a living. But that first day we met, he helped me with logistics of the event, had a great time and his energy was contagious.

Since then we saw each other at many other events, festivals, picnics. I always sought him out. We became Facebook friends and he'd post sassy and fun comments on my profile.

Ricky's Fish Tacos
Gary loved wine and he loved tacos. One of my favorite tacos in L.A., and also his,  are Ricky's Fish Tacos. Golden, crunchy, fresh and a burst of flavor.

Ricky's Fish Tacos - original spot in Silver Lake
The first time I met Gary, he wore a hat similar to Ricky's, and it was quite the signature look for him.

Gary Mogil - East L.A. Taco Crawl - photo courtesy of Sunny DeJesus
Here is Gary with said hat at a super fun East L.A. Taco C'Rave (aka Crawl) last year.

Santa Rita, Jalisco - Pescuesos de Pollo
One of our detour stops, recommended by our friend Cecilia, also the crawl's hostess, was Santa Rita Jalisco that serves these "chicken neck" tacos. Think lots of crispy skin with a handle and all the taco fixins.

It's not for everybody. If you like chicken on the bone and fried chicken and tacos, it would probably work.

Santa Rita Jalisco
Another favorite in town is the authentic al pastor tacos of Tacos Leo, who sets up shop in a Union 76 gas station parking lot on Venice Blvd. and La Brea.

Tacos Leo - Al Pastor
Tacos Leo - al pastor tacos with a slice of pineapple from the spit
One of my latest favorite tacos in town is anything from Mexicali Taco and Co. in downtown L.A. on 1st and Beaudry.

I don't even know whether Gary tried these, but when I did, I thought of how he'd love them.

Mexicali Taco and Co. - salsa
Mexicali Taco and Co. - tortillas

They bring in their tortillas a couple of times a week from Baja California.

Mexicali Taco and Co. 
They grill the meat first, then chop it on a wooden block, which keeps it more juicy. Best carne asada in town.

The taco chefs are super friendly and cool too. They told me about eating oysters on the beach in Baja and said I should come along! Nobody has to ask my twice...

Mexicali Taco and Co. - The Superman

Mexicali Taco and Co. . - carne asada and chorizo tacos
The photos alone can help you understand why they were named L.A.'s favorite taco for 2011 by LA Taco. Excellent tortillas, carne asada and salsas.

Mexicali Taco and Co.  - chicken Vampiro
Even their chicken is perfectly tender and flavorful (I'm guessing it's dark meat chicken). The mouth-watering vampiro is like a gooey quesadilla with agenerous amount of garlic cooked in.

During this past week, a couple of mutual friends were talking about how Gary's mug shot remained on our Facebook friends list on our profile pages all week, almost as if he was still hanging out with us.

I asked my friend Sunny if I can repost a couple of her photos of him, and she replied that Gary would love the publicity and networking.

Gary Mogil - photo courtesy of Sunny DeJesus, 2010

Gary and I met after having gone through a very personally challenging 2 years and his upbeat demeanor reminded me to keep my zest for life at all times and enjoy the present. I constantly laughed and smiled around him, or just thinking of him.

When my father passed away 8 years ago, some people I hadn't met came to the memorial service. They were his students in the 60's at USC graduate school (even before I was born).

They told us how he impacted their lives being a philanthropist who helped them in so many ways. It really moved me.

Gary was also one of those people always sharing their light and delightful energy with others, totally evident by the outpouring of love upon his blessed departure.

The spark he had is something I will always cherish and aspire to. And will never fail to think of him with every new taste of a taco in town.

¡Buen provecho, Gary!

4 Responses to “A Taco Tribute to Gary”:

  1. ideafield says:

    Just when I didn't think I could shed another tear, I gladly shed more. Bravo, Wasima! You captured Gary so beautifully in this post. That dear man reminded us how life should be lived... every single time he graced our presence. Time to share the "Garyisms." Now that'll be a chore. ;-)

  2. So sweet! I nice touch in talking about Gary and introducing the world to the East LA Taco scene.

  3. Brenda Carpen says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your friend Wasima - can't think of a better one - through what you shared and loved!

  4. Thanks ladies - it came from the heart. The taco references was just a way to lighten things up (at least an attempt to do so). :)

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