Galway Food Stories; John Romero and the Meat in the Middle
Food & Drink//Galway Stories

Galway Food Stories; John Romero and the Meat in the Middle

A few people come into Kai and you think you will never forget them, most definitely for me that’s John and Brenda. They are people that get it, the fact food and food stories are meant for sharing, both good times and bad. The closest thing to Mexican cooking I had ever had was eating tripe tacos on a Pontiac bonnet with a massive big gulp of Horchata in a Oakland car park in 2014, wondering where I had gone so wrong with my menu choices and Dave (my husband) just shaking his head at me wondering why I keep on trying to love tripe. So, it’s even more impressive that the most real Mexican cooking I’ve eaten has been on Sea Road cooked by John.-Jess Murphy

Q. When did you, Brenda and the kids decide to move to Galway?

We came to Ireland for the first time in autumn of 2014, spent three months here, and fell in love with the place. Doing what we do for a living (making video games), we reasoned that we could live anywhere we wanted to, so we decided that we would move here and open a company. We spent the next nine months figuring out how to do that. We could have chosen any city, but when we asked Irish people where they would live if they could live anywhere in Ireland, they said, ‘Galway, Galway, and Galway.’ For us as video game developers, it’s the perfect mix of tech, creativity and weirdness. We love it.

Q. What’s your favourite thing about living in Galway? What makes it special?

So much. It’s really just an incredible sense of community we feel here. People know each other and support each other in whatever it is they’re doing. You can see this on Shop Street every day — buskers up and down the entire city centre. The Saturday market by St. Nicholas’ church, the walks along the Corrib, and the incredible food and produce everywhere, especially in the Westend. It’s a really foodie town and we’ve always felt so welcome here.
JOhn Romero Jess with blender

Q. Did you guys realise there would be such a buzz about the Legend of Doom moving to Galway? I remember when you and Brenda first walked into Kai and I was like ‘wow who are these awesome people?!’

That’s so nice of you. We thought the same thing about you and Dave! Kai was one of our first stops, and seeing another couple running a business together was great. Really, we are just happy just to be a part of Galway. If there has been any buzz about it, people largely keep that to themselves, I think. Sometimes, I’ll get a ‘Hi John,’ from someone I don’t know who recognizes me, or they’ll say, ‘Loved Doom!’ while walking past, but I find there are so many creative artists, writers, chefs, musicians and so on in Galway, that I’m just one of the many who decided to call this amazing place home. So, no, we didn’t think we would be any sort of news with the goings-on happening around us.

Q. When did your absolute love for Mexican cooking start? Are you Mexican trad or a tex-mex mix? Or is it a massive No No to like both?

My family is from the state of Sonora in Mexico, and I was raised in a Mexican barrio in Tucson, Arizona, a UNESCO World Heritage site of gastronomy. So, Mexican cooking has always been a part of my life, particularly Sonoran-style Mexican cooking. If you come to my kitchen, that’s the only food I’m cooking. Tex Mex is a thing, but not really my thing. I prefer the traditional, authentic flavours of Mexico. Moving to Ireland has made me appreciate my culture and our food even more, since I can’t just run out to a restaurant and pick up some birria tacos or tamales or chilli colorado. As a result, I cook a lot more than I used to, and it’s made me a better cook. I’m grateful for people like Lily Ramirez-Foran of Picado Mexican and Ernie’s for stocking Mexican foods and spices. I post a lot of my dishes on my instagram: @galwaymexican.

Q. Do you deseed chilli?

Yes, I do deseed chilli — I also get the veins out. I usually use dried chillies, mostly guajillos. Did you know all chillies have two names? One name is when it’s fresh/fresco (like Poblano) and the other name is when they are dried/seco (Poblano becomes Ancho). Fresco Jalapeno becomes Seco Chipotle. Fresco Mirasol becomes Seco Guajillo.
Deseeding chilli

Q. What's your star sign?

I’m a Scorpio. If we had chilli signs, I’d be a colorado.

Q. Is it always black in the fingernails? If not what else would be your colour of choice?

I’ve had them in different colours, but they don’t suit me as well as black, the colour of heavy metal. I have tried different dark colours and even a chrome mirrored finish, but it’s always back in black.

Q. What's your favourite band?

That’s incredibly difficult, so I’ll answer the way I must. It’s a tie between Black Sabbath and Judas Priest for 70s bands. Dokken and Queensryche for 80s bands. Lynch Mob and Alice in Chains for 90s bands. I’ve worked with both Nine Inch Nails and Buckethead for my games, and love them, too.

Q. Who are your ultimate dinner party guests, dead or alive? (5 only)

There are several dinner parties I would need to plan. First, game programmers: Nasir Gebelli, Bill Budge, Jordan Mechner, Richard Garriott, Larry Miller. Next, heavy metal: Rob Halford, Zakk Wylde, George Lynch, Geoff Tate, Tony Iommi. Finally, game designers: Brenda Romero, Tim Schafer, Dani Berry, Tom Hall, Ron Gilbert.

Q. I’ve been blessed to eat your cooking, and you certainly cook from the heart. Who was the woman (wild guess) who taught you to cook like that?

My Mexican grandmother, Socorro. She was a miracle. No matter what time you came into her house, she’d say, “Mijo, sit,” point at the dining room table and serve up some rice, frijoles, fresh flour tortillas, Sonoran-style, and whatever meat she happened to have on. My Dad also taught me a lot, particularly how to cook over fire. Both have passed, but their recipes and techniques live on in our family.

DOOM guy book

Recipe - Enchilada Sauce

  • 8 Guajillo dried peppers
  • 1 Ancho dried pepper
  • 2 boxes of tomato sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups of veggie broth
  • Cumin
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Cooking oil
  1. Boil 4 cups of water and toss 2 veggie broth stock pots in.
  2. De-stem/ seed all the peppers and burn them in a dry pan.
  3. Crumble the peppers into a blender.
  4. Pour the tomato sauce in the blender.
  5. Put cumin and black pepper in the blender.
  6. Put the peeled garlic cloves in the blender.
  7. Blend it.
  8. Get a sauce pot and put some oil in it and get it hot.
  9. Use a strainer to push the blended sauce through into the hot pot.
  10. Cook in the pot for at least 5 minutes.
  11. Pour the broth into the pot.
  12. Simmer for a while until it’s done.


All photography by Ciarán MacChoncarraige
Words by Jess Murphy

Published on Updated on