March 26, 2024

Life's Accoutrement

Life's Accoutrement
It is the epicenter of all things. The compass facing North. The canvas on which life’s experiences are painted. Hundreds of thousands of books have been written about it. Major announcements have been made in the midst of it. Marriage proposals have been accepted over it. It can be said that food is life’s accoutrement.
Austin is know for many incredible things, but one of the top three is arguably… FOOD. Food trucks, world class restaurants, tacos and tenderloins… we have it all here. So this post is dedicated to the simple and unadulterated love of… FOOD!
You, like me, every one of us in fact, can reminisce about the best moments of our lives at a dinner table, a bbq, a birthday party, a crawfish boil, a wine and cheese tasting, a banquet, a fundraising event, a baby shower, or just an old fashioned family conversation accompanied by fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and sweet tea. It is… glorious delectable food. And in this week’s post, we celebrate it!
Back in 1979, I worked two jobs to pay for college. In that same year, because I was an education major, I added student teaching to my plate. So it wasn’t unusual for my workdays to start at 6 am and end at 10 pm. I was 21 years old and had limitless energy, so it was all good. For about a year of my life, I would come home at the end of the day and find my older brother, Kevin, sitting in our family room watching Night Gallery, or Twilight Zone, or whatever we watched in reruns. Every night in my young and ravenous state I would raid the fridge. We weren’t big cooks in our home, so there was always the need to be creative. One of the cheap foods we seemed to have in abundance was Pillsbury biscuits. Nothing fancy, for sure, just the can that you hit on the counter’s edge to hear that classic “pop”.
Fourteen minutes later you had your meal. About eleven minutes in your taste buds were fully engaged because of the aroma that only cheap, white bread biscuits could offer, wafting through the late-night house. 
That was only the beginning prep for sure. Then came the butter. Sweet, salty, smooth, butter. The more steaming biscuits you sliced into with surgical precision, the hotter the knife became, and the easier it was to spread the butter melting on the searing silver. And the mess… that glorious mess!
Then, the Piece de Resistance… the jelly. Grape. Only grape. Only Welches grape jelly. And only the most adept and skillful jelly connoisseur could have the acumen to scoop just the right amount for each and every steaming biscuit. It is a skill that only a chosen few can boast. I was, in a word, gifted. When the plate was ready… Kevin and I would sit down with our feast. A plateful of steaming, butter-drenched, jelly infused… nirvana. 
My bother and I had little in common, not much to talk about really, even though our love of one another was undeniable. He was an athlete, a proud blue-collar union man. I, a teacher, music major, artistic type. He was straight, I was not, and few would think we were brothers to meet us together. But in those nights, over those biscuits, a big glass of milk, and sci-fi reruns… we bonded, forging memories that still bring a tear to this old man’s eye. It could have been any food really, that mattered not. For us, it just happened to have been biscuits. 
For you it may be a glass of wine, a plate of your dad’s steaming bbq ribs covered in the family’s special sauce, a piece of Aunt Nell’s red velvet cake, or your Bubbeh’s most savory brisket. It may be a full picnic basket on an Autumn day, lean Fit-Meals bought to complement those workouts with your significant other, or a huge bag of P. Terry’s to feed a college dorm cramming for finals. The point is, food is at the center of it all… celebrations, family times, dates, and late-night get-togethers. It is, beyond a doubt, humanity’s clearest common denominator. Do not doubt me. If you do, Kevin and I will meet you in the family room in the late-night hour, steaming plate in hand, and you will bear witness to this absolute truth. Bring your own milk.

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