Mexican Food

 

 I come from a long line of excellent cooks from both the maternal and paternal sides of my family; Nanny and her mother Miss Lottie, even cooked for a living at certain times during their lives.  Nanny was at one time a lunch-lady at the local school in Parrott, and Miss Lottie, in her younger years, took in boarders at her home near Atlanta.


Our momma, who worked full time in the family propane business, mastered country cooking by using recipes and with instructions from relatives; however, she utilized creative ideas and special ingredients to produce fantastic dishes that my grandmothers did not even recognize.   She did not have time to cook often during the week, but on the weekends she spent most of her days in the kitchen where she cooked and baked for family and friends.


Daddy was stationed near Harlingen, Texas during WWII and he and momma ventured into Matamoros, Mexico numerous times during his tour of duty in the US Army Air Corps.  They enjoyed all kinds of Mexican dishes during those visits and discovered a fondness of the spicy offerings.


Our weekly groceries were purchased locally in Richland; the Suwannee Store, Hilltop Grocery and Joe Gamble's store were some of our favorite choices but once a month our family made an excursion to Columbus to purchase items not found at our local establishments.  Numerous recipes and ideas that were published in magazines were prepared in our kitchen during our childhood.


 Once the Old El Paso products were discovered, momma began experimenting and produced her own brand of Mexican inspired delights.  Our festive weekend meals generally began with fresh fried tortilla chips with homemade salsa dip that was filled with melted cheddar cheese.  She cooked enchiladas filled with ground beef or shredded chicken, smothered with cheese and baked in the oven.  She purchased various sauces but formulated her own mixtures that we liked better than the canned version.


Daddy made dips with small cans of the green chilies and blended it with tomatoes and V8 juice.  Flour tortillas were not available so all our items were made with corn tortillas that came in round cans and had not been cooked.  Because momma did not care for super hot peppers, there were usually two kinds of dip, one much hotter than the other, and daddy always added more spice to his at the table.


Our parents enjoyed entertaining and one of the couples that they invited frequently were Billy Buck and Henri Carter of Lumpkin.  Billy Buck was not only their banker at the time, he was a business advisor and trusted friend.  Those who remember this remarkable couple will also recall his fondness for gourmet foods; once momma invited them for Mexican night, he never let her forget that it was one of his favorite meals.  In addition to their fondness for exotic food was the shared joy of ballroom dancing, sometimes they moved the furniture and practiced their dance moves there in our living room.

 

Brenda S. Brown 

 

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