Meatballs

Lee Hou
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS Earl Butter made the sauce and I put meatballs in it. You could smell this on the stairs. Between the first and second floors it was something, and between the second and third it was something else. The meatballs had beef and pork and cheese, garlic, parsley, an egg, some old bread crumbs ... basically, whatever I could find in Earl Butter's kitchen. I browned them in bacon fat; then, while they were bobbing in the saucy gurgle, I washed the soccer off of me in Earl Butter's shower.

Five zip we'd lost. I tossed a salad, boiled spaghetti, Wayway brought the bread, and it was Sunday afternoon all over again. My hair air dries. I do not use hair dryers.

I use a towel.

The occasion: a visit from our own private Idahoan, Johnny "Jack" Blogger, né Johnny "Jack" Journalism, né Johnny "Jack" Poetry, the master of doing what he does, and being what he does, and words and I guess horses.

There were eight people total gathered around a couple of makeshift tables, spinning mismatched forks and raising glasses and bottles and eyebrows to bad jokes, good food, and questionable politics. We laughed until it hurt, ate until it hurt, and then one of us had to go give a massage, another was late for load-in and sound check, a couple needed a nap, and dirty dishes beckoned.

Somehow Johnny "Jack," our guest of honor, wound up doing most of them. I helped. When I go to Idaho, Johnny "Jack" and his wife, Mrs. "Jack," always have a big pot of something or other waiting for me. Mac and cheese. Red beans and rice. It's a long drive.

When he showed up here, a couple nights before spaghetti, I had jambalaya, which is my new favorite thing to make. And eat. I am eating the leftovers as we speak, and I gotta say: yum. Every time I make jambalaya I have to call Crawdad de la Cooter five times to ask about this or that or rice, and I suppose that's partly what I love about jambalaya. That tech support comes with it.

You can toast the rice first, or not, or sauté it a little with the "holy trinity" of onions, celery, peppers, and garlic, and, oh, you can imagine how a chicken farmer loves four-thing trinities!

But this time Crawdad called me. "What are you cooking?" she asked.

"Jambalaya," I said. "Here. Talk to John." And I handed him the phone. My two favorite laughs, his and hers, but I could only hear one of them and wished I had a speaker phone.

At the show that night three of our spaghetti friends were playing in two different bands. Everyone was there and I talked to a lot of people I hadn't seen in some time and lost my voice. That's just one reason why this column isn't exactly saying anything.

On the way back to the woods we stopped at a late-night Chinese joint for something to eat. Up high near the ceiling in a corner was a medium-size fish tank with medium-size fishes swimming back and forth, winding around like letters, trying real hard to spell P-O-R-K and B-E-E-F and even C-H-I-C-K-E-N, and really only looking like fish in a fish tank. And tasty ones at that. Which reminded me of this article even before I started to write it.

Johnny "Jack" Blogger has been blogging and talking a lot about nostalgia. This ain't that. My own happy happy sizzly sadness is set some time in the future. I don't want to be fried, or cooked in a clay pot either, but there is something delicious in my medium-size heart, flop and roll and apropos of none of the above. I twist, I turn, I sink and spin, and can't even begin to spell it.

My new favorite restaurant is Lee Hou, which claims to be "the very first Chinese restaurant on Clement." So ... OK, so they've had a long time to perfect their salt and pepper chicken wings.

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