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A brief history of tuna taco time

26 Mar

Canned Tuna fish: love or hate her she’s here to stay. Delicioso dinosaur: aqui ahora antes us y will be despues. And like the very air we share, tunafish has touched all of our tongues if not at least our nostrils – whether we asked for it or no – as this white and gray matter Del mar has shapeshifted to round out dishes as diverse as a dilettante Italian white bean bruschetta topper or a down and dirty truck stop tuna fish salad wedge.
Serving as many culinary roles as Mc Donald’s sells hamburgers; a veritable Zelig de la lengua – like the Happy Meals of our youths and the custom Starbux beverage of today’s contemporary our lifestyle – this grave y feo pescado, like any web browser worth its gigabytes in NSA spyware serves as a history menu listing of our life and times. 
And sooooooo heeeeeeereeeee’s mine:
A Brief Personal History of Tuna Time, if you will and I don’t mind if I do – replayed in the voice of Steven Hawking:
1970 – nature vs nurture vs nutrition
Hola first forkful of the family casserole: 

Tunanoodlepea, made by Mom.. A Miracle Whip based conglomerate, as essential a Az summer staple as air conditioning (with a side of salty plain potato chips, washed down con fruit punch), a source of comfort and controversy (See: Mayonnaise vs Miracle Whip epic rap battles) and anchor throughout the red ‘you are here’ dots mapping my peripatetic vida. 
Significant how? The binding genome for a family of four adopted kids.  
1980s- Soundeconomies

For those of us bypassed by the greed gene, this decade painted in hues of excess, pastel and acid wash – but for the saving graces of late punk rock and early Camper Van Beethoven – well it like totally kind of sucked. The currency plugged into my rebellious jukebox twernt coke nor junk bonds not sushi but canned tuna fish and cloves and nicked Buzzcocks tapes. A cupboard stocked with Bumble Bee meant an empty checking account and a menu rich in creative approaches to cooking with tuna tuna tuna: tuna helper, tuna Mac and cheese, tuna burgers, tuna melts, and gracias grande to you both Sassy Magazine and Sonic Youth for printing a glorious recipe I still punk rock today: tuna tacos.
Economics covered, onto the sonics…
How I survived the 80s has been noted and memorialized on or is it in this agui IFLAG by working getting fired then working again getting fired then rehired again and again by my dear, bittersweet late mother: sole proprietor of the award-winning Tempe,Az hoagie shop Bellyfillers. The lay-offs rained whenever Teen Anst got the better of me and I got snappy with either customers and/or the sole proprietor. 
And yeah, maybe I once got caught answering the phone ‘Bellykillers’ only because the caller just so happened to be the sole proprietor. Never, I repeat never I did I once taint – with or without my taint – even so much as a crumb served to our outstanding clientele. Making the best fucking food you ever tasted was a priori. Forcing you to listen to ‘Orgasm Addict’ (on cassette) at an ear-piercing pitch while you waited for TBFFYET, well, that may have accounted for one or two of the grievances passed on to the sole proprietor who passed on to me mi pink slips.
Diga me though, has not my 1981 pre-Pandora practice of playing pre-recorded music in a dining establishment so loud you couldn’t even hear yourself chew (and I could not hear your complaints about its volume) become the norm? Escuche: try whispering your order at any bourgeois burger joint or Starbucks. See what that gets ya.
One might have easily assayed Pete Townsed-sized hearing loss by stopping in Bellyfillers before the sole proprietor handed over the spatula to her 13 year old son or the award winning tuna fish salad supply needle neared ‘E’. 
Escuche: What the tuna salad recipe lacked in original ingredients – kind of like diction in IFLAG analogies – it made up with an invisible secret ingredient: sound. The tone deaf need not apply as my replacement. Each and every last employee (including my 10-year old sister who holds the silver medal in firings with 4) need pass tuna tuning training. A harmonious blended batch of canned tuna in water, chopped onions, relish and ahem – miracle whip, which we always referred to as mayo – had to achieve a certain pre-slosh splkurth but never so much as a slosh. Turning and folding and mixing each pungent batch with as delicate and deft a hand as that of a soufflé chef you’d think the greater concern be that it risked bruising the pescado all the while holding an ear tuned to each turn: Magic. Put a fork in as soon as it sounds as if recorded could easily pass for the foley effect of a zombies head being bashed in by a cricket wicket.
Nose Scientists press states that 87% of food & beverage taste comes not from brain IM from la lengua but invisibly via Smell. Escuche up ear scientists: what’s your cut? The ear scientists hypothesize music fires up more neurons at once than any other human activity. Then Check this hypothesis out for super size: If you mute the OST at say random sample say McChipolte, upon first bite into a burrito dragged through the jardin a brain freed from Adele’s undulations nourishment neurons will properly light up like a scoreboard, teeetimg to the rest of your gourd how aforeforaged burrito now sounds and tastes like a cilantro and lime perfumed Taco Bell special. (Hold the helping of hate on TB, my being both a fan and stockholder of their superior hot sauces)

The 90s:
We’ll lets just leave what this might mean to your id.

The Aughts: the great recession-proof pescado.
Were it not for gratis elk and food stamps I’d have been reduced in both income and economic stature to have inhaled enough tuna To sport gills. More than Quite a few links down on the food chain did yo slip, noting a notable uptick in Starkist and Bumblebee stock, me. Notable new variations on this veritable steak of the starving masses: nada one.
2010 – present: a tuna melt Medicaid for the millennium.
Student loans and gainful employment were this blog’s roux, where lard is lord, carne king, queso Queen – is it obvious kids books influence? – pork prince, beans boss, eggs some superlative word starting with ‘e’, chile the caca, butter beatific along with all the other loyal servants of the Az-Mex empire gathered to feed mi estomago and fill mi Corazon. My Held Steady upright forages and ruminations ahora along with previously undocumented, at times messy yet never not ecstatic, weekly assignation with double Chicago cheeseburgers of every stripe have been a source of binary joy I made an ass out of u and med twert accessible sin Googling la palabra porn. Tambien, according to my previously private until aqui medical records this la Comida Del Santos spiked my previously held steady cholesterol content. Because I’ve yet to concoct an AzMex plata con oatmeal (oatmeal as to cholesterol as Sherrif Joe Arrapaio is to ‘Mexicans’) brings me back to Tuna
Lo-Cho Nuevo-Mexi-Talian Tuna Tacos
Chop ½ cup onion


Open and drain can-o-tuna




Soy sauce splash


Salt & Pepper & pinch-o-Mexican oregano

Stir & set aside

Seed, stem & chop defrosted fresh roasted NM green chile approx 4 Big Jims (a small can of hatch will pass)
Pre-heat Oven: 425
Open pack small corn torts (El Milagro en Chicago)

Open Trader Joes tub-o-parmasean/Regiano/or any other dry/sharp Italian queso

Open/drain canned sliced black olives from California.

Layer on tort: tuna chile cheese – heat till bubbly and/or kitchen smells like Chinatown in July.
Cue up ‘Orgasm Addict”

How The Chili Cook-Off Invented Hip Hop aka Manifest Destiny’s Child

10 Mar

I for once am at a complete loss for completely random themes/narratives to diving into this blog to hopefully come up for air in a bowl of gnarly green-go bride’s maid/red ribbon/silver medal posole.

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I’ve mulled over subjects ranging from performance enhancing drugs to the opening scene in Apocalypse Now to Paczki (Pooch-keys) to texting in movie theaters to Zumbani gravy to daily affirmations for documentaries about sociopathic enlightened despots to fantasy baseball draft fantasies to glamping with Ernest Hemmingway and Campell McGrath to the death croak of a Florida Keys grouper to second helpings of ponch-keys to Kate Moss Single Malt Scotch to National Chili Day to Jon Wayne: Rap Album One to red to salt on ice cream to Colorado the state not the color because it’s blue and confusing but not nearly as baffling as the state “dish’ that goes by the name of Green Chili which is actually a clear soup the consistency of stomach flu bi-products made from John Denver’s sweat. I am not a fan, per se, of this Rocky Mountain version and so over the course of a few years holed up in Eagle County Colorado I mastered – so said my reflection in the mirror – a Varsity vat of a Colorado green chile pork stew soup thing.

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A-ha! That’s it, the chili cook-off as Wild West Shoot out.


Vaya! But of course!!!! Calling all social anthropologists and cultural studies majors. This here is a landmark discovery in the field. If we trace the origins of hip hop….


Okay so I lost most of you at the mention of ‘studies”. Oye oye, hear me out. Why doesn’t it make sense outside of Norte del Mexico where even the arrest of El Chapo sadly means only a short term cease fire in the otherwise wily, wild, outlaw ‘culture” in the CONCBPS (Country of Old Narco Capos with Bad Plastic Surgery)


and I don’t mean for this to read like a Margaret Mead treatise but smash me in the face with a cast iron skillet if my brain didn’t just fart up the origins of not just the chili cook-off but how one can actually draw a meandering line from let’s say for the sake of argument, Reno to The Bronx.


Damn it feels good to be a meanderer….

Once upon a time the Westwardly moving white Europeans, mostly bitter Civil War veterans on the losing team, taking notes watching John Ford and Clint Eastwood movies, having fulfilled “Manifest Destiny” these pioneers met with a vast nothingness that is Pacific Ocean and/or California. Having slaughtered their way across this great Nation their government and employers claimed as theirs, and because this was a time before PTSD – when Men were Men and so were children and women – again, according my notes once the land and narcotics ran out, these frontier people devoid of war, spirit, country, education, television, harmony, teeth, tolerance – ergo a meaningful existence – well, they simply seethed with fight. And as y’all know, you can take the rebel out of Dixie but take his right to bear arms (read: shoot people) and he may very well take you out.

Again, this according to Time-Life, John Ford, Clint, Skynrd. without bison and/or Indians to slaughter – and ignoring for the moment – just like Mr. Ford, Clint, and text books – all surrounding land and culture was recently Mexican/co – and their autonomic nervous systems basically cooking up a freebase of “fight” hormones atop their cerebral cortexes everyone naturally turned on one another: Outlaws vs Posses. Nobody served “the law”  or even the lord anymore. All answered to a higher order called “Justice”. They brought it on each other day in and day out. Sound familiar? Yep, The West Coast and gang violence go together like Ice Cube and Coors Light.

What throws this hypothesis for a loop though is that, well, the whole hip-hop anti-violence connection happened years before gangsta rap invented itself and yes, it wasn’t in the Wild West but up in the Bronx where the Zulu Warriors brought the peace by having kids remix all those “fight” hormones into “funk’, giving birth to break dancing/beats/tag throw downs and everyone really needs to read all about it in the flyiest, hypest, phattest comic book since Luke Cage: Power Man.


Man, but do I love to digress. If I didn’t lose you at “studies” or “hypothesis” or “Coors Light” then…anyway, just as knife fights and gunplay and brass knuckles in The Bronx went the way of the 8-track tape as rap contests supplanted violence.


I mean, I think it is safe, and culturally insensitive to say that the smoke the world saw during game whatever of the World Series which inspired Cosell to spout, “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is buring”

and for many marked the birth of hip hop can be read as a Wild West tale with a Hollywood ending, though most Hollywood Westerns wipe out all the bad guys (and Indians) instead of teaching them to dance/rap/tag or make chili. Anyway, again, take Dr. Who’s phone booth time-travel fetish back to the late 1800s when both chili became a staple dish and the violence in the Wild West went the way of the bison and/or most Indians probably because the pioneers killed each other off, ran out of bullets or became Mormons but what if that twernt the case as all?


Why? What? Where? Who cares? Don’t ask me to answer anything but How for now. What I propose, and it’s yet to be documented or maybe I just haven’t bothered Googling it yet, that the Chili Cooking Contest were the Rapper’s Delight of the Wild West. The proof, my friends is blowing in the lyrics:

Have you ever went over a friend’s house to eat
And the food just ain’t no good
I mean the macaroni’s soggy the peas are mushed
And the chicken tastes like wood
So you try to play it off like you think you can
By saying that you’re full
And then your friend says momma he’s just being polite
He ain’t finished uh uh that’s bull
So your heart starts pumping and you think of a lie
And you say that you already ate
And your friend says man there’s plenty of food
So you pile some more on your plate
While the stinky food’s steaming your mind starts to dreaming
Of the moment that it’s time to leave
And then you look at your plate and your chickens slowly rotting
Into something that looks like cheese
Oh so you say that’s it I got to leave this place
I don’t care what these people think
I’m just sitting here making myself nauseous
With this ugly food that stinks
So you bust out the door while its still closed
Still sick from the food you ate
And then you run to the store for quick relief
From a bottle of kaopectate
And then you call your friend two weeks later
To see how he has been
And he says I understand about the food
Baby bubbah but we’re still friends
With a hip hop the hippie to the hippie
The hip hip a hop a you don’t stop the rocking

If this isn’t an ironic post-modern wink to Chili Cook-offs then it’s probably just some classic food lyrics forever funny as shit.

Any any any…via


What is it about Chili Cook-offs that ended Random acts of Wild West Violence?

a. Slaughtering the meat = slaughtering the innocents

b. Beating someone over a burbling vat of chili  =  beating them with your stump

c. Brining on the chili pepper mouth heat = rabbit punch

d. Weapons of Mass Diareha  = Weapons of Mass Destruction

e Quality farts = quality farts

f. All of the above kept me from hauling off and kicking some little shit’s ass for not just beating me in a chili contest in Colorado circa 2008 but also taunting me by referring to me as “Jack Ass” (for the popular film and television star of the era, whom I purportedly resembled) during the awards ceremony (..still).

Answer: f

That blogged, here’s my losing recipe for Gnarly Green-Go-Stop-The-Violence Chile Posole (alias: Bride’s Maid Green Manna Leashy With The Three Pronged Claw, Stiffed by the Soviets Silver Medal Stew, Blue Ribbon Burgoo et al)

Gnarly Green-Go-Stop-The-Violence Chile Posole



1 PORK (Shoulder or Roast; so long as it’s nice and fatty)

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1 cup o’ NM Green Chile (seeded and stemmed)

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1 Yellow Onion

1 garlic head (oven roasted in olive oil/salt/pepper @ 400 degrees for 45 min)

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Tomatillos (boiled)

Stock (chicken)

Flour (white)

Butter (yum)

Cilantro (fresh)

Mexican Oregano (old)

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

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Brown one inch chunks of pork in oil and butter (roll in flour or don’t) – place in crock pot/stew pot

Brown onion in left over pork oil, add to pork – add salt/pepper/oregano

Blend tomatillos, green chile and garlic with a splash stock until smooth and pour over pork and onions. Add chicken stock, if needed, to completely cover pork.

Cook on low heat for 6 hours and then some.

Top a bowl off with a handful of cooked hominy, a dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of lime and some chopped cilantro sprigs. (Goes good with cheese crisp.)

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Eat. Rap. Delight.