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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Our Taste of Summer Found Recipe contest is now down to three finalists, and we're asking you to weigh in on which of their recipes and the story behind it should be the winner.

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BLOCK: We met the first finalist yesterday, and now, to the second, listener Patricia Mulvey of Madison, Wisconsin. She runs a farmers' market menu planning service, and her Taste of Summer is Ensenada slaw.

PATRICIA MULVEY: It's a lightly dressed crisp vegetable salad with a touch of heat from hot sauce and a touch of acidity from lime juice.

BLOCK: And a touch of...

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Vacation...

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)

SIEGEL: ...horror stories.

BLOCK: Because this recipe stems from a summertime trip from hell.

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BLOCK: It's 1995. Pat and her husband borrow their friend's Ford Escort and set off from San Diego for a drive down the Mexican coast. Suddenly, there's a rock, a large rock smack in the middle of the road. A construction crew is using it as a safety cone. Pat has to make a fast choice.

MULVEY: Well, if I swerve left, I'm going to hit 60-mile-an-hour oncoming traffic. If I swerve to the right, I'm going off a cliff.

BLOCK: So instead, she drives over the big rock. The car, the borrowed car, is damaged.

MULVEY: My husband got out and looked and said it's OK. It's just a leak. I think we can make it down to Ensenada. So I started the car up when a hideous, shredding, shrieking, awful sound threw me into a tizzy, and I just spazzed out. So then I waved down the next car on the road, and my husband jumps in, and we explained to him we need a phone. So he drives us down to a resort where we called for a tow truck. The tow truck driver picks us up and takes us back to the car, which is teeming with machine-gun wielding federales, and their drug-sniffing dogs.

Now, the friend whose car we borrowed - Dave Hackney(ph) - was the assistant state's attorney in San Diego in charge of prosecuting drug violations.

So I have no idea whether he has ever or is currently transporting drugs. I don't know how this stuff works. My stomach's doing flips as the guys come up to us with their guns and tell us we can go. So the tow truck driver gets under the car and comes out laughing his head off because we have torn the entire oil pan out from the under car. There's a gaping hole.

So he drives us into Ensenada to El Senor Maximo's(ph) auto body and beauty supply shop where El Senor Maximo begins the process of tracking down (foreign language spoken), the oil pan. He finds one in Los Angeles, tells us he's going to have to drive there the next day. We decide to just call it a night, find a restaurant, have a margarita, and we order the fish tacos, which are topped with this amazing slaw. It was a revelation to me. It was bright. It was crisp. It had just the right hint of heat. And I fell in love with that slaw. It helps that the mariachi band was singing "Besame Mucho" to my husband and me while I ate it. But it was delicious.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BESAME MUCHO")

MULVEY: The taste of the slaw and this music made it seem like our luck was turning around. But no.

We returned to El Senor Maximo's, and it turns out the timing belt has shredded. And now they're going to have to return for the part. And so we can't stay. So we hitched a ride, get to San Diego and tell Dave exactly where in Mexico we left his car. He looked at me, and he said, are you OK? Did anyone get hurt? And I started crying because I was so relieved that he wasn't freaking out. And he said, you guys are my best friends. Why would it matter about a crappy car?

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MULVEY: A few years later, I went to culinary school where I finally figured out how to make the Ensenada slaw, the one bright shinning moment in that crazy Mexico adventure. And now every time I make that slaw, I smile because I have a really great friend, and I'm still friends with him to this day even though I left his car in Mexico.

BLOCK: That's listener Patricia Mulvey with a story behind her taste of summer entry for Ensenada slaw, a crisp and refreshing vegetable salad with a hint of heat. You can get her recipe and check out our other two finalists on the Found Recipes page at npr.org. While you're there, tell us which of these recipes you think should be the Taste of Summer and why. We'll hear from our final finalists tomorrow.

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