Hell, perhaps you’re still young and somewhat desperate. But not me: I’m not quite so young, and certainly not as desperate as I was 34 years ago. Because back then, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were desperate (or hungry) enough to eat Weevil Chili.
We have an interesting food history together, SWMBO and I. On one of our earliest evenings together, I prepared a sumptuous dinner for two, which we enjoyed together in the sanctity of my Houston apartment. The meal consisted of a lovely roast leg of lamb with a seared dark brown crust on the outside and tender, rosy, garlic-perfumed meat on the inside, along with creamy made-from-scratch mashed potatoes and some nondescript green vegetable, the identity of which has been lost to the mists of history. All of this washed down with a wonderful claret – Troplong Mondot St. Emilion 1967, if my memory serves.
Of course, what I didn’t know, so early in the relationship, was that there was no way on this Earth that She Who Must Be Obeyed was actually going to eat any lamb whatsoever. Lamb, duck, raw onions, organ meats, and eggs belong to the food group consisting of Things That Will Never Be Eaten By SWMBO.
But she did make a brave show of pushing that stuff all around her plate… just long enough for me to get enough of that fine claret in me so that I wouldn’t be in any condition to notice that she had consumed not one molecule of lamb. [I found out later that she had, in fact, actually swallowed, python-like, a few chunks (whole, and lubricated with mint sauce to avoid the necessity of chewing and tasting) because she didn’t want me to think she didn’t like her dinner. What a woman in love won’t do…]
Lest you get the impression that SWMBO is a picky eater, I have to say that, in the early years of our marriage, we, both two of us, had no problems comporting ourselves like True Trenchermen. At least once a week, my bride would prepare a humongous casserole of something called King Ranch Chicken. I’m a little vague on the ingredients, but as I recall, there was chicken (duh), tortillas, chopped jalapeños, cheese, and Gawd knows what else. And the two of us would snarf down that entire honkin’ casserole. A couple years of that, an’ them ass be gettin’ fat.
Even before we tied the knot, what culinary adventures we had. There was the time I bought a whole beef heart, I have no idea why. Probably in honor of Don Van Vliet. But I stuck it in a Pyrex dish, smothered it in tomato sauce, shoved it in the oven… and went out to see a movie with SWMBO. When we got back three hours later, the damn thing was the size of a prune and had the density of White Dwarf Star Matter. Never mind – I ate that sumbitch anyway, just for spite. [No way the Mrs. was going to let a Beef Heart pass her lips, so I had it all to myself. Oh, boy!]
And then came the Day of the Chili.
We assembled all of the ingredients for a big, steaming pot of Texas chili. Coarsely ground meat, because regular ol’ hamburger just won’t do. Tomato sauce. Cayenne. Chili powder. Etc. Etc.
No beans – this was Texas, remember? Self-respecting Texans do not adulterate their chili with nasty beans.
We browned the meat, stirred everything all up, and set it to simmer. Then we dumped in the chili powder.
Only problem was, the chili powder was moving. It was the Attack of the Chili Powder Weevils. Caramba!
We now faced an unpleasant choice: (1) toss the whole mess out and order in some Chinese, or (2) pick the little bastards out of the pot, one by one, and eat the chili.
I am ashamed to say that so strong was our Chili Jones that day, and so great our unwillingness to dump out what must have been all of $7 worth of meat, that we chose Option Number Two. We gobbled up the whole fricking mess, making faces at each other the whole time.
Who knows just what kind of protein we ended up eating as an “enhancement” to our chili meal? Or how much? It tasted just fine… but the thought of what we did that day still gives me the willies. We had to marry each other after that, if for no other reason than to keep the story from ever getting out.
Did I say that we were young and somewhat desperate? Yes, I did.