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Chorizo & Eggs for a Homesick South Texan

Chorizo
Image via Yelp

This is not a recipe for chorizo and eggs. There’s no ingredient list hidden in the blankets of text that follow. If you want to make chorizo and eggs, google it. Or better yet, visit South Texas and have it at a restaurant, because if you didn’t grow up eating it, you won’t know what it’s supposed to taste like. I ate it at Mi Tierra in the Market Square in San Antonio and it was damn near perfection if served a little less piping hot than I prefer it. But I digress.

This morning I found myself crying in my kitchen. It’s not a hobby of mine or anything, but it is happening more often than normal lately due to losing my best friend to colon cancer two months ago. I wasn’t crying for Michelle this morning though. I was homesick for my Dad (who passed away in 2017) and the dated kitchen of a little ranch style house in Victoria, Texas.

Like many women my age I am constantly in a battle to try to shape my body back into the form I remember it rather than the form it settled into after I had kids. The best way for me to keep on top of that fight is to exercise and manage my calorie intake. The problem is that food is definitely one of my comforts, and in grief, you need all the comfort you can get.

When the Capital 10K was cancelled last month, my husband and I decided to stop for breakfast on the way back home. We went to a place we’d never tried called “First Watch” and I ordered some kind of egg scramble that purportedly contained chorizo. Whatever they served me, it was good, but it wasn’t chorizo. It was brown, had the texture of finely ground hamburger meat and was sort of sprinkled over yellow scrambled eggs. Also it tasted gingery, giving it a vaguely Indian flavor.

I’m from south Texas, I know chorizo.

  • Chorizo is red. When you cook it in eggs, it comes out orange.
  • Chorizo isn’t so much a proper sausage as it is a gooey, over seasoned  meat paste.
  • When you cook chorizo and eggs, the two become one. You can’t scrape the sausage off the eggs.
  • There ain’t no ginger in chorizo.

My Dad did most of the cooking in my house growing up, and he always said “Really good chorizo contains stuff you would never want to eat” because it’s filled with all the reject parts of the pig they couldn’t even use for hot dogs. He used to make chorizo and eggs and it was delicious. Except for a brief time in the mid-90’s when he was stubbornly forcing our family to eat these horrible whole wheat tortillas. There’s really nothing better for my gringo south Texan soul than a hot plate of chorizo and eggs on a fresh flour tortilla with Pace picante sauce.

So this morning, still obsessing over my experience with imposter chorizo, I wondered how many calories there were in real chorizo, and if I could fit it into my diet. In response, I practically heard my Dad’s voice say, “You don’t eat chorizo because you’re counting calories, you eat it because it tastes like home.” So there I am, barefoot in my kitchen, thoroughly un-caffeinated and just crying my eyes out because I miss my Dad, and (to a lesser extent) South Texas.

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This isn’t the first time I have encountered this quandary. Note my Dad’s comment.

South Texas is not the prettiest place in Texas. It’s suffocatingly hot and humid. The land is so flat that you can see for ten miles in all directions. The trees are short and scrubby, with lots of juniper, huisache trees and thorny mesquites that don’t get much taller than 6 or 7 feet. There are plenty of live oaks and pecans too, and for some reason there are palm trees of many varieties everywhere. By the end of summer all the plant life is brown and crunchy. The mosquitos and cockroaches are practically prehistoric in size. The spiders and snakes are endemic. The winter is mostly just wet and muddy, and if it gets below 40 degrees, no one goes outside. Every spring tough, the whole place explodes with wildflowers and dewberries.

For what it lacks in topographical beauty, South Texas makes up for in history and heritage. The region was settled by Mexicans, Germans and Czechoslovakians, and there are remnants of all those cultures interwoven into modern South Texan life. The people there tend to stay there, and there are many who can trace their familial roots to before the Texan Revolution.

My family lived in Victoria from 1983 to 1996. That’s my entire life from birth to age 13, so pretty much my whole childhood is in South Texas. I don’t remember learning to count in Spanish, I knew how as soon as I knew how to count in English so they must have taught us in preschool. In high school one of my closest friends had moved to Texas from Slovakia and she was shocked to hear me refer to my bellybutton as a “pupek” because that’s the czech word for navel. I literally just thought it was another English word, I had no idea it wasn’t until she told me.

I’ve never done the DNA testing everyone else is doing but I think it’s pretty safe to say that I am fully white and do not have hispanic heritage. However, my Dad spoke fluent Spanish and tried his best to encourage us to learn it. He used to buy my mom sweet greeting cards in Spanish because he said they were more romantic than the ones in English. It wasn’t a proper bilingual upbringing, but being raised that way gave me an appreciation for how very intertwined the culture of my home state really is with our closest foreign neighbor.

I wrote an article for Wide Open Country a while back about growing up in South Texas, because it really just is so different from other places. It’s not really on the way to anywhere except South Padre Island or Mexico, but if you ever get a chance to visit South Texas, find a Mexican restaurant and try the chorizo and eggs.

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