The chapters of my life are bookended by food and drink experiences.
The first time I realized the fallibility of my parents I was probably 7 or 8 years old. The scene included a chef’s knife, Laffy Taffy, and my wailing mother who’s finger was gushing blood Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive-style. Urgent care stitched her finger right up, but my sense of security was forever severed.
Urgent care stitched her finger right up, but my sense of security was forever severed.
I wondered who’d take care of us in the event of an even more tragic Laffy Taffy incident… Or God forbid, Big Hunk.
When my brother and I got baptized, a lady named RosaLinda Ellis made chicken enchiladas for a family meal afterwards. Salvation should be so savory a dish for all willing to believe. My first job was in the kitchen of my grandad’s restaurant. I was a 13 year-old four dollar an hour dishwasher. When the grown-up dishwasher quit I had my first full-time gig. A BOH food worker, which was fine with me because I had a bad CD buying habit by then.
My teenage years were all about excess. Once I ate 26 pieces of pizza at CiCi’s. You know what? I felt fine… No, I felt great. My Nana introduced me to dive-restaurant goodness, weird food exploration (like jicama salads), and legit snacking. My grandparents were always doing weird things with food that usually turned out to be delicious.
My grandparents were always doing weird things with food that usually turned out to be delicious.
They’d sprinkle brewer’s yeast over popcorn, slice up sharp cheddar to be eaten with red apples, and put peanut butter down the center of celery with raisins.
My early 20s were feast or famine. Feast when I worked in restaurant kitchens. Famine otherwise. Once in college, I slept through cafeteria dinner and survived 18 hours off one package of Starburst from a dorm lobby vending machine. Life after campus was fueled by food grilled on a George Foreman. I can make anything on one of those now, including chicken fajita nachos. But nothing came close to juicy monuments that were our munchie-motivated stuffed burgers.
I met my wife the fall I turned 24, and I met her parents shortly after. They had autumn-hued dishes filled with candy corns mixed with peanuts on the coffee table. I never liked candy corn. In fact, I always wondered who did and the fact this family was so shamelessly open with their candy corn affections made me worry about the whole thing.
I never liked candy corn. In fact, I always wondered who did and the fact this family was so shamelessly open with their candy corn affections made me worry about the whole thing.
And the peanuts were even more troubling because… why? But honestly, it’s pretty delicious.
We moved to Lubbock in February. The only place I’d ever eaten here was 50 Yard Line (and CiCi’s). There are so many new places to explore. After noshing and quaffing in Amarillo for the last 20 years I know every nook and cranny of its culinary landscape. But now, in Lubbock, I feel like Lewis and Clark must’ve felt as they headed northwest out of St. Louis, full of hope and anticipation of what the great unknown might hold.
My family thinks I came here for a job. So do my in-laws. My boss thinks I came here for my new position. But now you guys know the truth… You all know I came here for the food.