The Taste of Home

I could write about the obvious today, the topic every news source is chattering about, but I’ve made a conscious decision not to. I’m going to go with the blog topic I’d already decided for today.


When you ask people “what is your comfort food” you’ll find that the answers are surprisingly simple. What give us comfort is usually food we recall from childhood. Mom’s biscuits, maybe. Mashed potatoes like gramma made. A rhubarb pie.

These aren’t high falootin’ foods. There is peace in starchy simplicity.

Over the weekend, I cooked up some of my own brand of comfort food by making a pot of pinto beans. This isn’t so unusual, really. I like to keep a pot of beans in the house for tasty quick eats. For me, beans are a staple food. But it’s more than that.

When I pour the bag of beans onto the counter and start sorting through them, I’m repeating an ancient process. It’s a part of me. It’s a part of my family. It’s burned into the DNA of New Mexico. It’s so right, so peace filled, and so intuitive to me, it doesn’t require much thinking.

I go to the happy place while I separate handfuls of beans, spread them out on the counter, look ’em over, throw the rocks and chunks of mud off to one side, sweep them into the pot, and repeat.

When done, I fill the pot with water and let beans soak. It’s the soaking that makes them magic. That pot sits on my counter smiling, humming to itself while the beans slowly begin to engorge with water and emerge as something quite perfect.

Then after plenty of soak time, I dump that water, rinse the waterlogged beans, fill the pot with water again (about an inch above the bean line) add a nice bit of fatty salted pork then put them on the stove to cook.

Burble, burble, the house fills with a wonderful aroma. That cooking pot is a sensory experience. I can hear the beans slowly simmering. I can smell the fatback cooking down. I peer in every now and again to see how we’re doing, give a sample bean a taste and feel the steam on my face.

And when they are done cooking, I feel satisfied. I made something good. Something tasty. Nutritious. Satisfying.

I made something like home.

Just by eating a simple bowl of warm steaming beans, I’m myself again.

Image by Karen Fayeth using the Camera+ app on an iPhone4

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  • Natalie

    I made a big ol’ pot of beans on Sunday. Used the bone from the left over Easter ham. Had that and warm, buttered tortillas and a big glass of ice-cold milk. It was cold and rainy-snowy.
    A perfect day for beans. A perfect comfort food.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Nat – I love that we both made beans this weekend! GMTA indeed!!

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