Having one’s head in the clouds is a evidently a good thing these days. It was obvious from the buzz, if not the signs, at this year’s Cisco Live convention in Las Vegas.

I wandered through the trade show today to try and figure out, from the thousands of smart geeks who were gathered there, just why. Lady Gaga (or her twin sister) was even on hand to help sell the cool factor of the cloud concept.

These particular clouds take technology and computing and networking to a new level. They are virtual; they are portable; they are invisible containers without borders that, like dark energy or a living a set of lungs, expand and contract as needed. Like a basic chicken noodle soup recipe, these clouds allow for endless customization and interpretation. A Cisco-produced video (in 3D!) even pointed out we can’t imagine the limits to the “services universe” the cloud can facilitate. Buzz Lightyear would approve; with such endless possibilities they seem to be an actual conduit “to infinity, and beyond.” At least, that is what I learned today.

Naturally, after so much thinking I was ready to eat, so I moved straight from borderless clouds to the Border Grill. It was only about a 50-yard stroll. I’ve written about the Border Grill before and often try recipes from the Two Hot Tamales cookbook. The layers of flavor they come up with are awesome, and not what I grew up cooking with. Poblanos, plantains and achiote. Smoke and jalapeno. Spice and sweet, tang and crunch, all rolled up into packets of yum. Here is our lunch:

Our server brought this basket of warm chips to the table. The sauces were thin, red, green, and smoke:

We added guacamole, which was fresh enough but needed some salt (conspicuously absent from all the tables). Sadly it didn’t photograph very well with the iTouch I was playing with. I’ve got the photo anyway so you can see how cute it looks; the tortilla was artfully arranged to look like the brim of a sombrero. The side greens are mizuna, a baby mustard, subtly bitter.

Bad picture. Bad, bad picture!

We also ordered this queso fundido, a Mexican-style fondue of melted manchego, panela, and Oaxacan string cheeses mixed with crumbled chorizo and ribbons of caramelized onion and pepper. It was very pretty, a glistening green and orange plate of savory.

Ok, on to the main course. LL ordered the Yucatan pork tacos. The slow-roasted achiote pork had a sweet cinnamon sort of flavor with enough heat to give it a kick. The tortilla was actually two thin ones, pressed together with a pocket of black beans in between. Another really lovely dish that tasted great.

I felt like I crossed several borders with with my Cubano – a Cuban sandwich served panini-style in a South of the Border themed restaurant. Like any good Cuban sandwich, mine had multiple meats: turkey, ham and pork – one of them smoky, none of them overwhelming. Again, the photo does not do it justice; the sandwich looks more like a wedge of Brie than a Cubano. Grrr. (Am I missing iTouch camera tricks or do I need to drag my Canon EOS everywhere???)

What you are thinking is true. This was much too much food for two people at lunch, and now we are sitting in our lovely room at the MGM Signature eating leftovers for dinner and thinking about the day. About how food is fuel for the soul, and technology is fuel for the imagination. How both fuel the economy in very different ways. We talked about borders, and how the presence of a defined set of standards – whether in the cuisine of a culture or in high-tech – can result in really wonderful new ideas. And about how these clouds fueling the imaginations of so many people here will probably be defining the architecture of how our children will live as adults.

So there you go – another day in my Life in a Skillet. Viva sem fronteras!