Fame did not come as I wanted.
Jim Belshaw, retired Albuquerque Journal columnist, early riser and waste-no-time emailer, dinged me at 6:09 a.m. Sunday after seeing my name attached to a comment in the New York Times.
“Is this you?” he demanded, ever the no-nonsense newsman.
In my waking haze, I realized he was grilling me over a snarky comment I’d made about kidney beans. I sent it in a hot-headed moment to a Times food columnist and it was immortalized online. I didn’t know Belshaw read food items but, at any rate, this one did not escape his eagle eye.
For the record, the New York Times has for years ignored my thoughts on literature and world peace. What finally triggered mention was a note I wrote in 2014, praising pinto beans and putting down mealy, tough-skinned kidneys in connection with a “Texas chili” recipe shared by the usually sharp newspaper.
Here is a complete transcript of my appearance in the Times:
Apparently “Texas Chili” should have no beans, though one reader, John Robertson, concedes that if you must add them, his “preference for any bean in proximity to chili or chile always will be the toothsome, flavorful and inherently noble pinto.”
I read to to the bottom of the Times story, looking for more of my erudite discussion of beans, but that was it. I acknowledge, however, that some of the other comments in “New York Times Recipe Commenters (Politely) Spill Their Guts” were funnier than mine.
“Who eats a chuck roast cooked with a stick of butter?” asked one reader.
And another questioned food writer Mark Bittman’s 40-minute preparation tip for the “Best Scrambled Eggs.”
I should have remembered the sage advice reported by Times writer Jennifer Steinhauer in 2014, quoting Texas food historian Robb Walsh: “I don’t disagree with anyone’s chili.” But I felt I was in good company in this column by Times comment moderator Lisa Tarchak.
Still, I am worried about my legacy on the internet and in the New York Times.
I fear that my top Google search terms will forever be: “John Robertson, beans.”
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