Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Perils of Takeout

Because I was tired, because I had a little money, because I was too lazy to cook, I joined the people I worked with in ordering Mexican a few weeks back. The menu included a sampler- a taco, an enchilada, a tamale, and chilles Rellenos. "That's a lot of food", another nurse warned me. I knew it might be, but I could take what was left over home, and as a friend says"eat on it for days". And I would get the chance to see my beagle dance around on his hind legs when I brought in the boxes. He knows what styrofoam and round foil pans mean.He is certain it will work out well for him. It always does.

I paid $13 dollars and waited with all the rest for the food to come. We sent someone out after it since the restaurant would not deliver. Our emissary came back with 4 big brown bags. People crowded into the lounge trying to figure out what was theirs.

Mine was a grease-stained mega bag of chewy corn tortilla chips. It came with a tub of salsa.. I shoved it into a corner, but when I came back to get it later, it had- as the southerners say" taken legs". I was not angry. I work with people who are poor. I hope one of them took it.

I had another bag with a taco in it. Later, it walked away too. I never had a good look at it.

My sampler was in two round foil pans , each with a cardboard cover. "What is that?", someone asked me. It was a fair question.

The first pan was a mass of brown beans with an Orinoco of yellow cheese flowing through it. I say cheese, though I think it was "Cheese Product", which could have included all things synthetic. I hoped melamine was not one of its ingredients. The bean surface was uneven, It looked like the muddy bank of a watering hole, with animal footprints all over it. I began to excavate, and I found what I believe was the tamale, though it may just have been a corn meal lump. A young Honduran nurse I work with had give me a homemade tamale wrapped in a banana leaf a few weeks earlier. It was good. This one just tasted like more refried beans. The beans and cheese had also drowned the enchilada, which I unearthed next. It was falling apart. It had at one time been stuffed with ground beef, in pieces so small they were almost at the sub-atomic level. I had no doubt, that given time and the right temperature, they might sprout forth into the first bean-beef hybrid. I searched on. No chile rellenos. It had to be in the other pan.

This pan had rice in it, more cheese product, and a hill rising in the center , out of the plain. It was the chile, but what ever it had been stuffed with had long since fled or floated down river. It was poblano colored, and poblano shaped. It had a little poblano bite. It must have been real, though defeated and rubberized into an amorphous greenness.

But was it good? Did I eat it?

Anything tastes good to a hungry night nurse, for night nurses will eat anything, out of anything. I once saw a nurse sitting at the desk eating mac and cheese out of an emesis basin because she could not find a dish. She forked it up with a tongue depressor, because she could not find a fork. I also heard of a nurse who had a friend feed her bits of a burger while the first nurse was doing CPR on and off for over an hour. I know that sounds like an urban legend, but I swear it is true, because even if it hasn't happened yet, somewhere it will. Possibly in this city. Maybe tonight.

Did the beagle get any Mexican? Did he eat it?

A beagle will eat coffee grounds and a filter from the trash.

What do you think?

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