June 01, 2011

Zen and the Art of the Frijol

By George Tate © 2011

Pinto beans are the Mexican equivalent of the staple of life. Breath is the staple of life. Being able to focus and enjoy the simplicity of everyday things is the joy of living. You’re asking yourself where this bullshit is headed. I believe there is a Zen return to the Art of making a pot of beans. Breathe deeply and pour a fine glass of wine. Savor it and its flavor for the moment. Drink it down and take a breath. Find the bean crock, spoon, and jalapeno, two cups of pinto beans, onion, minced garlic, seasoning, and chorizo (Mexican sausage). This is simplicity. Take a breath.

Wash the beans in a bowl. Do this gently as the wine takes its effect. Watch the water as it turns from brown to amber and then clear. Turn off the water, take a breath, and pour another glass. Reach in the bowl with both hands and squeeze the beans gently once or twice and pour out the water. Have another breath, savor the wine and fill the bowl with water again. Repeat the complete process while continuing to breathe deeply and savoring the wine.

Heat a pan of water, pour the beans in the crock and add minced garlic and seasoning to your taste. Have a breath and a glass while the pan of water comes to a boil. Cover the beans with the hot water to four inches above the top of the contents, put the top on the crock and breathe deeply in meditation for about 12 hours.

Find the wine and a glass, take a breath and one more, pour the wine and savor it. Find your cutting surface, a good knife, onion, jalapeno, and chorizo. Mince the onion into very fine pieces. Take the seeds from a large jalapeño and dice it into very fine pieces. Wash your hands with soap or your meditation will be on the pain in your eye for the next thirty minutes.

Take a breath, pour another glass and find the comal (or frying pan) and chop the chorizo into fine parts. Simmer the meat slowly in the pan until it gravies and turns brown. Take a breath, move the crock to a medium flame and add water to cover the beans at least two inches and put the top on the crock. Savor the wine and the kitchen aroma for a few minutes while breathing. When the pot is boiling, take the flame lower until you find a simmer point.

Add all the ingredients at this time and cover the pot.

Pinto beans let you know when they are done. After four or five hours check the pot and stir it gently. Breathe in the aroma and look for different colors that rise as you stir. Cooked pintos caramelize and throw off their sugars into the water making it a milky brown. When the beans are done turn off the fire and allow them to cool in the pot. Set a place at the table and pour a glass of wine. Enjoy the flavors of the wine and pintos slowly, breathe in and meditate on chewing.

Clean your table and wash the dishes. Sit and meditate for a while, breathe out, BUT don’t breathe in.


George Tate is a former over the road driver of fourteen years that love's travel, wild wimmin', Pisano Wine, and Omaha 08. When they are a package, watch out.

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