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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: Nachos

Last night I went to an infuriating reading. It doesn’t have much to do with nachos, I know. But it did mean that I didn’t get to have dinner with my kids so that I could listen to an old white man tell a young white man that he couldn’t hope to become a public intellectual. What he meant by this was that there was no such thing anymore as an agreed upon canon of text by which the world could be understood and judged. The definition of what an intellectual needed to know had changed (the writers and philosophers the old man loved were falling out of favor) and therefore, the young man could never hope to be what the old man was. In the same breath, the old man professed to be a liberal and a fierce supporter of democracy. Clearly, what he meant by that was that people who didn’t look like him (think black or with breasts) should be educated enough so that they could think like him but not educated so much that they actually dared to change the the world of ideas he lived in. He, like all of us, was overwhelmed by the profusion of information now available and his conclusion was that nobody could hope to make sense of it.

The kids were in bed by the time I finally got to eat my nachos; my husband and I had a rare dinner alone. I made him promise that we would never get old that way. That we would never condemn those who come after us for not being us; for having been necessarily changed by our ever changing world. I was thinking of my children, of course. And I was thinking of how strong the conservative tug is that pulls at our sleeve as we age. Be careful, it can rip your shirt right off.


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I did it again. I burnt what I was cooking because I was writing about it. A whole batch of chips. The point of making our own nacho chips is that it’s cheap and easy. Only it’s not cheap or easy if I have to do it twice. I know one of these days the camera is going to fall in the food. It’s only a matter of time.

The chili nachos were made from leftover chili. The recipe is from Cooks Illustrated and long ago John added a twist which is now standard operating procedure. He made ancho chili powder by toasting dried ancho chilies and grinding them into powder with our old coffee grinder. So in addition to regular chili powder, this recipe has ancho chili powder. The chili takes about an hour to prepare and then you can leave it on the stove to simmer or you can throw it in the crockpot if you need to leave house. It usually feeds the four of us for at least three meals.

Tonight we added a new condiment, red jalapenos from the bodega next door. City life is full of inconveniences but the trade off for all the noise and for never being quite sure where your car is parked is that when you realize, two minutes before dinner, that there are no jalapenos in the house the solution is steps away.

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