I know that many of you can relate to this experience. You are sitting at a Mexican food restaurant, waiting for your order to arrive, trying to be good and not eat too many chips and not drink your margarita or beer too fast, when . . . A waiter sails by your table, carrying a sizzling platter of fajitas, trailing smoke, steam, and the incredible aroma of meat and onions cooking. It whips your appetite into a frenzy, just like Pavlov’s dog, and you start in on the chips again . . . MUST.NOT.LOSE.CONTROL . . . until finally your food arrives.

Such is the power of the sound and smell of cooking fajitas – I think that the aroma of meat cooking rouses up some kind of primal urge. Fortunately, good table manners and willpower can keep us from being overcome by the urge to grab someone else’s dinner!

Fajitas are typically made with strips of skirt steak or chicken tenderloin, which have been marinated in citrus juice, garlic, and other flavor-enhancing ingredients. Usually, liquid mesquite smoke flavoring is added (because most of us don’t have access to mesquite wood for authentic smoking). Fajitas can also be made with shrimp, which goes very well with the mesquite smoke flavor, and makes a great flavor combination.

This recipe for shrimp fajita marinade and the simple preparation method is from the restaurant where my husband and I met and worked at for years during college. The prep time is long only because the shrimp need to marinate for one hour; once that is accomplished, the rest of the dish goes together very quickly. If there are any leftovers of the fajita shrimp, they make a great addition to scrambled eggs, to a green salad, to egg salad, or even to soup.

On the different sizes and types of Flour Tortillas

Fajitas are typically served with warm flour tortillas. Whole wheat flour tortillas are commonly available in grocery stores, and work well for fajitas. Something to keep in mind while choosing flour tortillas is portion size. Flour tortillas come in different sizes, and it is important to read the labels to determine how many starch portions one tortilla will be. If a “soft taco” sized flour tortilla is 120 calories, that should be counted as 1 1/2 starch exchanges. (A starch serving is defined as about 80 calories).

I like using the “street taco” sized flour tortillas, which are about 5″ in diameter, and just the right size for holding in one hand. I also like how they count as whole starch exchanges. Two of these smaller tortillas equal 150 calories, or 2 starch exchanges. They have just become available in my area, and may not be available everywhere.