February 16, 2008

Today has been the most unexpectedly lovely day. Unusually warm, all the snow and ice melting off, I took a nice stroll around the neighborhood and got some Vitamin D.

I will say one thing about being mid-20s and single, there are times, usually weekend-in-winter times, that it gets lonely. I love the work week because I am surrounded by delightful people for 8 hours a day, before heading home to get a dose of alone-time before bed. It’s a balance that works well for me. But Saturday and Sunday …hmm. I am the type of girl who needs a lot of space and room to grow (if I were a plant, the little stick in me would say as much … “Amelie: Pink flowers, tall-growing, needs space and room for roots to spread, does best with direct light and stable, warm climate.”) Filling the Saturday/Sundays with a variety of tasks is the best way to make it through. My weekend boyfriend is Mr. Clean and his magic eraser. Yes. I’m that girl.
Weekend is also the time when I TCB. Whether that be laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, or doing the dishes. Productivity rules. Whenever I need to go to the grocery, I end up driving to the city where I work, CITYX, (a 20 minute drive from where I live), despite the fact that I have a grocery 2 blocks away, because the Giant Eagle in CITYX appeases my neurotic tendencies and need for order. They have the most organized produce section. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in, and I instantly feel my stress and issues with the general state of malaise in the world melt away.

There is something profoundly comforting about stacks and stacks of produce. The produce section replicates what nature does so well, forming the perfect intersection of science and art. It’s one of the reasons I love cooking … the tactile experience is truly sexy.

This, I believe, is an attitude I picked up whilst living in Europe. Travel to any region of Spain (and Italy, too) and you will find that the locals are dedicated to certain regional dishes, using the resources readily available and produced by the area. In some areas lamb dishes, in coastal regions, fish. Some places you will find dishes using the most spectacular citrus fruits, in others, the richest olives you have ever tasted. But everywhere you go, you find a reverence for cooking that is unusual in the US. The entire experience of preparation (shopping, chopping, smelling, tasting, sampling, stirring) becomes like a form of foreplay.

It easy to explain if you imagine a slice of chocolate. The way it feels in your hand. The slivers of chocolate that escape when you break off a chunk. How it melts on your tongue – the sensation. The tastes – bitter, sweet, dark, silky, warm.

The same is true of wine. My appreciation for wine increased exponentially in Europe. By its very nature, I believe Europe is more vested in their history and lineage than many Americans. In Spain, almost every person you meet can trace their lineage and ancestors if you ask them. And there exists a profound connection with the land they come from. For this reason, wine becomes almost sacred. A legacy of its own, bottled. If you listen, the wine can tell you stories. The history of a land. Did it rain the season these grapes grew? Was there a frost in April? If you start listening you can hear stories whispering about the leather of a hero’s saddle, a love affair in August, the trees that grew here long, long ago. Its beautiful.

Today, however, I am not making wine. I am making taco soup. Despite its scary name, it’s delicious (recipe to follow), and the fact that it’s a crock-pot makes me feel like I am becoming an efficient woman. I imagine that efficient women know how to cook things in crock pots.

The grocery was full of hot dads with their kids today, or as we call them, D.I.L.F.s. A few weeks ago, during brunch, it came up in conversation that the DILF-syndrome is definitely becoming more prominent in the girls in our age-bracket. I don’t know when it happened, but “early-40s man doing Saturday grocery shopping with his kids” has totally trumped “20-something metrosexual shot-gunning a beer.” This, of course, caused one of the boys (who is mid-20s) to prod the minds of his lady-friends, pointing out that, statistically speaking, if we are all set on dating older men, given a few more years there will be a a whole generation of X-ers on the divorce circuit after marriage #1 fails.

While I find this profoundly pessimistic, if there is any truth to the theory, I better be prepared to cook something in a crock pot.


2 pounds ground beef
2 cups diced onions
1 can pinto beans
1 can northern white beans
1 can black beans (rinsed unless you want to find out why they call them “the musical fruit”)
1 can kidney beans1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomatoes with chiles
2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix (dressing mix, not the dip mix)
Corn chips (Fritos) and shredded cheese for serving

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large crock. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. To serve, crush a layer of chips on the bottom of the bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with corn chips and cheese.



6 Responses to “taco.soup”

  1. Melissa Says:

    “……I love cooking … the tactile experience is truly sexy……..”

    “……..The entire experience of preparation (shopping, chopping, smelling, tasting, sampling, stirring) becomes like a form of foreplay……….”.

    Yes, the preparing of food, and the eating of it, should be slow, and savoured, as the making of love should be slow, and savoured.

    And food, to the friendless, can be a friend.

    You are a good writer, and I hope the activity of writing helps assuage the loneliness of your week-ends.

  2. Amelie Says:

    Thank you! Your comment is lovely and appreciated.

  3. C. Fraser Says:


    …and, as an aside, it’s interesting what different readers fixate on…don’t get me wrong, as with Melissa I can appreciate the tactile experience of cooking/food….but ‘DILFS’…that’s just too funny.

  4. C. Fraser Says:

    Yeah, I think DILF’s should be added to the modern lexicon. It’s only right to balance MILF”S, after all.

    I also just heard of a new phenomena with our younger male-generation whereby it appears that they are less inclined to engage women in relationships. This has been attributed to the constant bombardment by modern culture and overstating ‘proper’ male-female relations.

    It’s also been noted that this generation has lower testosterone and sperm counts than previous generations.

    Perhaps this is part of the reason why there is a burgeoning DILF situation happening. Just a thought…

  5. swordplayer Says:

    Dear Amelie

    We all feel lonely at times. It seems to be an inescapable part of the human condition. I think that the important thing is not to waste time even when you are alone. Personally I study languages during my fallow periods. So far I have learnt French, Spanish, German and Russian and there are hundreds more I can’t speak a word of. Given that you too are a linguist, I thought that this might be a way of occupying your weekends.

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