My Darling Wife and I often call ourselves “Pioneers.”
It’s almost true. No, we didn’t arrive on the Mayflower or strike out across North America in a prairie schooner. But we are among the first people to resettle this part of the city--a part of town where the closest restaurant is a pizza wagon parked in the driveway of a still-shuttered gas station, and where there are still more people living in FEMA travel trailers than in their houses.
This “pioneer” spirit teamed up with a run of cold weather recently to inspire me to cook a pot of “Sons of the Pioneers” chili.
It was a frigid, windy night last week when I decided to play frontiersman. I had to improvise some of it. I don’t own a hat or saddle, and I substituted a propane stove for an open campfire, and two domestic cats for horses.
But that’s not what it’s all about. Our here, it’s the grub that counts! So I started with Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit, a can of diced tomatoes and two pounds of lean ground beef.
I can’t exactly say I made a big pot of chili because we don’t really have any “big pots” in the trailer, but I pulled out the biggest I could find and I started browning the meat over the open flame.
I added the spices and flour paste as directed on the package. Because of our hypersensitive smoke alarms, I had the hood fan blowing the whole time. Still, somehow the trailer managed to fill up with that beefy, spicy chili aroma.
To really get into the mood, I put on a “Sons of the Pioneers” cd while I cooked and ate.
I'm an old cowhand from the Rio Grande
And I sing the songs in the cowboy band
I know all the songs that the cowboys know
About the big corral where the doggies go
'Cuz I learned 'em all on the radio
Okay, so it’s not real cowboy music. The Sons of the Pioneers, whose most famous member was Roy Rogers, are actually Hollywood cowboys. But that’s okay, because I’m not a real pioneer either. Besides, that’s not what counts here. In New Orleans, it’s always about the food.
And lemme tell ya--it was good vittles!