It’s two days after Valentine’s Day and hell had never known a colder fury than the snowstorm that was unleashed in Texas. Texas had been frozen for a second day leaving millions without electricity, water, transportation and food. Roads and pavements were white, and cars and trucks were frosted.
My main concern was, “What the hell are we going to eat?”
I couldn’t blame anyone but myself. I was told explicitly to go to the grocery store before the storm reached San Antonio.
Unfortunately, I was too lazy with coursework and claimed that I could just drive through the snow before it got worse.
Texas weather proved me wrong once again.
In the kitchen we had seven Jimmy Dean sausage links, half a bag of frozen grilled chicken and five eggs for protein that we prepared to ration. The rest of our tundra diet would consist of instant mashed potatoes, a box of macaroni and cheese, and half a carton of grits.
I took a deep breath and said, “Everything’s going to be all right, we got this,” figuring that as long as we could manage two solid meals daily we would make it to sunnier days.
In the midst of the citywide blackouts, thankfully and fortunately, my mom and I were blessed to be in one of the few apartment complexes left with electricity and running water. Knowing how fortunate we were, I hurried to the kitchen to prepare the macaroni and cheese with parboiled water.
No matter the circumstance, I do not like sad meals and realized that I would not have any meat to put in or go on the side of our meal. Just good ol’ pasta with cheese. As I prepared to break mom the news, I reassured her that if absolute push came to shove I would spice up the emergency meat that was in the cabinet. It had been marinating for months prior to the storm as a part of a care package gift from my grandpa. If there was ever a time to try it, now was it.
The silver can read “Lakeside Foods Pork with Juices.” I opened the can quickly and prepared myself to experiment with my seasoning skills.
Nothing in this frozen city could have prepared me for what I poured out of that can. Food had never intimidated me more than that Vienna-sausage smelling, pink and brown fat-coated monstrosity. I thought I was being pranked. As advertised, one big hunk of meat was staring me down with the promise I had made to “hook it up.”
Not believing what I got myself into, I immediately ran to my mom.
“Mom, I need you to check this meat before I cook it,” I said.
She stared at me like a plush toy and followed me to the kitchen. Completely unfazed, she ordered me to hand her a pan that she covered in oil and threw all of the meat in at once. I stood to the side befuddled at how little by little the fat melted away and the meat began to brown. My ego was bruised that day, but at least I knew we would have a hot meal.
I watched my mom go to spice after spice, bamming up that pork like she was Emeril Lagasse. Still skeptical, I didn’t try a lot at once, but besides the slight gritty texture I was pleasantly surprised at how good the meat had turned out.
She put the pork in a dish and covered it with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue and honey, and that was all she wrote. More importantly, it meant we could save our other proteins for the next day if we were snowed in again.
On the night of Feb. 16, my mom and I enjoyed bowls of tender, gooey macaroni and cheese with barbecue pulled pork as San Antonio continued to freeze over. We created a memory and satisfied our stomachs. It didn’t matter that we had no knowledge of what the next day would bring while the city was at a loss. Regardless, we felt prepared to tackle it head-on as we waited for warmer days.