Sunday morning. August 15, 2021. I wake and about to have my usual egg with a piece of bread when I notice foil wrapped corn tortillas left over from Don Pedro’s menudo on Andresen in Vancouver, WA. My hands instinctively pull apart the foil as the olive oil in my pan heats awaiting the farm egg I will add creating a bubbly sound. I open the foil and take one corn tortilla out, rewrap the other tortilla and set it aside.
I begin to tear the tortilla gently into small 1/2 inch sized pieces and add them to the now very hot oil. I listen as I hear little squeal like sounds as the oil begins to enter into the small corn tortillas causing them to change them from a light color to a golden yellow and slight brown. I add my favorite a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and ground fresh pepper atop it. I quickly add the cold egg into the hot pan creating a piercing sound of deliciousness as I mix the two making sure the egg is cooked through.
I place this yummy combo on my plate and take note that it needs one more thing. I know what, it is some delicious hot sauce as I scour through my over-filled with left overs fridge. There it is underneath the many layered bean dip from a previous barbeque! A little tub of hot sauce left over from a carne asada burrito from Muchas Gracias just down the street off of Mill Plain. I think to myself I really must cook my own food as I recall the burrito tasting extremely salty the last two times I had ordered it.
I place my corn tortilla and egg creation on my plate and drizzle the hot sauce on it. I look forward to the multi flavors as they touch my tongue as I thank the animals and vegetables for giving up their life so I might be nourished. At Muchas Gracias I recall responding to the beautiful person at the register regarding the hot sauce I prefer. “Give me the hottest one you have” Always the same response and always my mouth is on fire!
I sit and look at my delicousness before me and as I take the first bite I am instantly transported back to my childhood. A flooding of delicious memories amongst the traumatic experiences that come from being born into a farmworker family. I take the second bite and tears well up in my eyes as I am now in my Nana’s cocina. On this particular day my Nana is cooking bean and cheese burritos. Grating the cheese as the oil heats then splashing the cold beans onto the hot oil. I run in as I always did and take a bow. You see, the sound of the cold refried beans against the hot oil, in my ears sounded like an applause for a job well done. It mattered less to me – the job I did or how I had earned the applause. What mattered was that someday I would make a difference. I would add to the world in some life changing way.
After over 15 years of being in the alcohol and drug field the feedback is that I am changing many lives for the better. And it does feel really great to witness people shift from total despair to just a little bit of hope and in some cases complete transformations!!! I imagine it is every substance use counselor’s goal to have that sort of impact. I am extremely blessed to have been a part of someone suffering less and many times truly living more!
And, on this morning I find myself creating the greatest impact and change on myself!
For I realize today from this little meal that it feels really good to be me especially from where I come. Or perhaps it is better said that from where I come has allowed me to be me!!! All this from a delicious, soul food that reminded me from where I come! Kevin McCauley in Pleasure Unwoven uses a Madeline Cookie to make the point that foods are connected with memories!
What is your food/memory? What is your cold beans on hot oil or Madeline Cookie food? I would love to know!