A recent experience at a Yuma restaurant reminded me that foods that share a name can vary in taste, texture and contents from region to region.
I ordered barbacoa and was taken aback when the meat was served in its juice, almost like a soup. I'm used to the shred-ded beef I find in eateries in my hometown of Tucson.
At another Mexican restaurant here, I decided to try the albondigas. I got a huge bowl of meatballs and soup. The rice that my mom always added to the dish was nowhere to be found.
At a Peruvian restaurant in Tucson, I discovered that empanadas are sometimes stuffed with meat and not the sweet fillings that Mexican bakeries add.
When trying Spanish food for the first time, I ordered chorizo, thinking it would taste similar to the Mexican version. It wasn't even close. Spanish chorizo is chopped, cured and contains paprika.
Despite some disappointments, it's always fun learning about foods by trying them.