Friday, May 31, 2013

Don't Need a Watch to Waste Your Time, Oh No, Oh No

A million years ago when I lived back in Fort Wayne, Indiana my oldest sister M still lived at home and she was the one who brought culture and style into the house.  M was worldly and adventurous. She read big thick books and kept up with fashion.  She went on weird diets and wore false eyelashes and mini skirts.  She hung her stockings in the bathroom like in the movies.  Her best friend looked like a man and her male friends were very feminine.  I thought she was 'it'.  I've written about this before but it makes me feel good to recall these memories.
It was a big deal when M made this recipe she called Goop for the family.  She was decades ahead of Taco Bell. She put ground meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, shredded cheese, kidney beans and then Frito chips mixed in and it became a big salad meal.  Well let me tell you what. In 1970-something that was very out of this world unconventional.  Just mixing in the Frito's like that!?  She blew my mind with that one and it was so good with the warm and cold mixed together, the crunch of the chips and the shredded cheese.  You didn't even have fresh cilantro readily available at that time so I doubt she was able to put a fresh herb in the mix.  However, the tomatoes back then were like fresh herbs in that they had so much vibrant flavor and smell. 
This would have been an updated version of that dish to include corn, fresh herbs, red bell pepper and jalapeno.  Halfway through though I forgot I had no iceberg lettuce and wasn't willing to go fetch a bag of Fritos, so instead, I served it over white Jasmine rice and scooped it with wheat flour tortillas.
But next time I will make the real Goop and get my fix.  Old people talk about a simpler time and I used to  think inside, 'gosh how pathetic is this melancholy for the past'.  Uh, well, I guess I might have been hit with the same bug lately.  I too recall a less complicated time when I was young and had family around.  The house was always full and alive. The family restaurant didn't exist yet and food was such a pleasurable part of our world.  I think summer, my mom's homemade tortillas, her flour-dusty apron and the portion of the Formica countertop that she rolled those tortillas out on.  I think crickets and lightning bugs, the back yard which at the time was enormous.  I think mulberry bushes and play fishing in the creek out back. Running constantly and laying in the patch of super thick grass that grew on our hill that felt like a giant green mattress in the cool shade.   I think of picking rhubarbs and having a little snack while sitting on the little rose trellis that my dad built. Helping my mom make potato salad and making fun of my dad for bringing home the wrong mayonnaise, again! 
M was already an adult and she was doing bigger and better things.  She could have been anything I believe.
But mom and dad were the cooks and it had never even occurred to me that us kids would ever attempt to prepare a meal.  The fact that Mary came into that kitchen that day with all her ingredients and made this for us was a right of passage. Maybe it was symbolic for me and she really cooked all the time, but this is one of the only things I remember her creating.  I'm not sure how it all came to be but Mary put aside some of her plans and joined forces with the folks to create, manage and run the restaurant a few short years following these happier times.  

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