Chili

22 Jul
Gran tied an apron around my waist and pushed me toward the stove. “It’s easy,” she said. She opened the cupboard and took out plastic jars of spices. Paprika. Cumin. Cayenne. Oregano. Garlic. I browned the beef while she opened the cans of kidney beans. Muffin meowed at her feet.

“She thinks it’s tuna,” Gran said.

“Shut that thing up,” Papa called from the porch. He had the Sunday paper and a cooler filled with beer. The game started at two.

“The secret to good chili is the secret to a happy marriage,” Gran said. She poured cumin into her open palm. I chopped onions and added them to the pot. Gran opened the bottle of garlic powder and poured it directly onto the beef and onions. “Be generous,” she said.

It began to snow. I asked Gran if we should make corn muffins from scratch. “We’ll use a mix,” she said. “Papa likes them better.”

We played gin rummy and took turns reading Good Housekeeping while the chili simmered. Gran had it timed it so that the corn muffins would be ready at halftime.

She gave me the final taste on a smooth wooden spoon. “Perfect.”

“Fill these,” she said, and handed me two bowls. “Now for Papa’s.” She ladled steaming chili into Papa’s favorite bowl, the one with the finger handle and the chip on the rim.

“There,” Gran said. She leaned over and spat into the bowl. “Papa’s dinner’s ready.”

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