Friday, September 7, 2012
Pinto beans. The little hard, light brown, speckled things that was a part of every meal. Pinto beans. For the longest time, Pinto beans were a staple of my diet. Ground beef and rice? Don't forget the beans. Pollo con papas? Don't forget the beans. Eggs and bacon? Don't forget the beans. Froot Loops cereal? Don't be silly. But more than what the food tastes like pinto beans reminds me of something, someone, rather else. It makes me think about the woman who would sit at the couch that was visible as soon as you opened my living room door. The woman who had a mole on her cheek and who would peel the rind of the oranges that she fed me as a child. Pinto beans remind me of her slippers and house dress and her white-white hair. They remind me of a short woman with a tooth or two missing and the cane that she needed to walk. They remind me of novelas and sweet bread and hugs and mall trips. They remind me of times when I would be home alone with this woman; not a care in the world. She'd yell out from her spot in the couch "Betito!", that's what my family would call me, "ven y ayuda me!" I would put down my power rangers or my wresters or my batman action figures and I'd rush down the short hall to this woman. She'd give me her hand to help her up--she had bad arthritis and struggled to walk and get up--and we'd head to the kitchen. We'd sit on the modest light brown table with the table cloth and a plastic cover and she'd pour the beans out from their bag and they'd sprawl across the table like a cascade of water hitting the shore. There we'd start to pick out the bad beans from the bunch: the broken ones, the ones that were to dark, ones that were too light, the ones that looked just plain ugly. We'd sit there for what seemed a long time, picking out the beans content with each others company. When we'd finish, she would grab a container and pour all the beans into it. The clay pot filled with boiling water awaited the unsuspecting beans on the gas stove. She'd pour them in and head to her spot on the couch. Soon, the aroma of pinto beans filled the air. The very same pinto beans that my were apart of every meal, the pinto beans that came by the pound, the very same pinto beans that remind me of a short, little, humble lady who loved me and cared for me: my grandma "mama".