They say it is a perfect cure for a hangover or a head cold, but not all menudo is created equal. So, when National City council member Luis Natividad told Chula Vista council member Rudy Ramirez that his local restaurant had the best menudo in San Diego County, Ramirez challenged Natividad to put his menudo where his mouth is.
“We were at an event, one of these rubber chicken dinners, and Luis Natividad was talking about this place he goes to get menudo in National City,” Ramirez said. “And I said ‘Yeah I got a place in Chula Vista that I go to.’ ”
Each official insisted on the virtues of their respective cities’ menudo talent.
“And I said, alright Louie I challenge you to a menudo contest!” Ramirez said. “And we laughed and had a good time with it and just kind of left it there.”
Or so he thought, but Natividad ran with it and the friendly ribbing that started that night between the two menudo lovers has not stopped as Ramirez is backing Plazas Restaurant in Chula Vista. Natividad backs La Sierra in National City.
The plans for the challenge are still being hashed out but one thing is settled – the ultimate prize will be good old fashioned bragging rights.
“That no good bum,” Natividad said jokingly. “He brought it up at dinner, so I went and did all the preliminary stuff and I set all the rules.”
Not only did Natividad set the terms but he also picked the judge for the contest, La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid.
“I’ll tell you that he’s kind of stacking the deck in his favor right now, the way he’s created these rules,” Ramirez said. “You know he’s got his buddy Art Madrid, who I bet has had a hangover at one point or another in his life.”
“How can I be stacking anything? The guy is from La Mesa,” Natividad said when he heard about the deck-stacking accusation. “He’s got his Chula Vista guy.”
Ramirez thought it was only fair to bring in his own judge, Star-News editor Carlos Davalos, to balance the equation.
“Now I gotta get a third person in case there’s a tie, man,” Natividad said.
Trash talk aside, both Ramirez and Natividad see the contest, now called Menudo War, as a way to bring the two communities together and support local businesses.
“Everyone wins,” Ramirez said. “We’re neighbors. We share everything. We share space. We share air. We share all of our natural environment. We’re culturally tied and we can promote our local businesses, you know mom-and-pops, this way.”
Once the first Menudo War is fought and won, the victor will be fair game to any other city in the county that wants to challenge the winner’s menudo prowess.
“I think my next challenge will be for the best mariscos truck,” Natividad said.
“After the menudo challenge,” Ramirez said, admitting menudo might not make the healthiest meal. “I’m going to challenge Louie Natividad to a cholesterol challenge.”
“I noticed he lost weight. That’s why he’s bragging,” Natividad said.