My Best Friend, Chino died far to young. He love to cook, share his food with friends and wash it all down with beer. He hated to take his blood pressure medicine so he skipped it. He loved to cook so he did and ate it. He died at 44.
I tried that tough love garbage for about 3 months and said that I wouldn’t talk to him until he lost 50 pounds. The only loss was mine as avoided me for about 3 months and I went back to him and accepted him for the loving person he was and just the way he was.
When my wife went to be with our daughter for a troublesome pregnancy for 6 weeks Chino and I went everyday for a swim and a beer at Princess Beach which happened to be a gay resort at the time. When Dolores got back, she joined the party as she also loved Chino and joined the fun. One bartender was so confused that she finally asked, “If Chino and I were a couple, who was Dolores?”
The answer was simple. We all loved each other and Dolores and I were husband and wife in the traditional sense and Chino was our dear friend.
After suffering my loss of Chino and Dolores, I have been thinking of the old times and the ironies of out friendship. Chino loved to cook what I call universal poor people food and Dolores never grew up that way. So when Chino cooked black eyed peas and ham hocks, he just knew I would love it and brought a plate to work for me and some other friends while leaving out Dolores because he knew it was not her type of food.
Dolores would never dream of eating tong, kidneys, gizzards, ham hocks, bull foot, pig ears, snout, feet, jowls, tail or neck, let alone the heart or rocky mountain oysters of any animal. She was throughly disgusted when her mother found out I liked brains and sweetbreads and cooked them for me. Dolores eventually accepted that chicken feet would build a chicken stock more than one made from backs and necks alone. But insisted I cut off the toe nails before cooking the feet and strain out every bone leaving only the pure chicken broth when I was done.
Now Chino was a make do own-way type of cook. He would conceive of a meal he would like and then make do with the ingredients in his kitchen so no matter how many times he made a meal, it never was exactly the same. It wasn’t that he was secretive about his recipes, he would just add whatever he thought the pot needed and whatever he had available substituting one spice or herb for another because he had run out of what ever he used the time before.
Some staples he never ran out of so you knew he always had fresh parsley, celery, rosemary, thyme which he could get from his garden and Sazon, Adobo, onions, garlic, rice, dried beans and canned Spanish salsa (the soothe kind). All he had to do was find a small piece of meat and he could whip up a meal for a dozen from the supplies in the larder.
One of my favorites was black eyed peas and ham hocks. However, before I set about cooking dried beans and a salty ham hock in my coffee pot all day and miss the proper sauce flavor, I decided to do a proof of concept using canned beans and turkey ham. It really turned out very good and I served it over a bead of rice. I am now ready to try the more complex and probably unhealthier version using dried beans and hammocks. As long as I keep losing weigh, I am not going to torture myself into eating bean sprout bread and tofu although I am really tempted to try a vegan pizza to see if I can make it taste close to real food. But forget that for now.
Black Eyed Peas and Turkey Ham
Tablespoon olive oil
chooped up onion
2 cloves minced garlic
thin slice scotch bonnet pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp paprika
¼ pound turkey ham
1 small can (10 oz) black eye peas with broth.
1 can chicken broth
10 oz can Spanish salsa (the soothe kind)
In the morning, put the oil, onions, garlic, spices,, herbs and turkey and put it on the hot plate of the coffee pot. Let cook while showering – 20 minutes and stir when you get back. Add the can of black eyed peas and broth and let cook all day. Prior to serving add the can of tomato sauce and let warm up. Serve over rice.
I managed to capture the sauce flavor of Chino’s black eyed peas and ham hocks so I was ready to try the real deal.