Filmed on Location in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
Soundtrack: Jesus of Cool by Nick Lowe
“They’re nice friends and good for a party!”
“Why all the talk about nostalgia? How about getting to the main dish?”
How about you settle down and have a decaf once in a while? I speak of nostalgia because our guests tonight are my best friend Paul and his wife Donna (typically, we visit them in Beaverton for one of Donna’s outrageously good 14-course meals, only 3 of which my pea-sized gullet can digest).
Paul (who once claimed he had the soul of an 80 year old, and the body of his father) and I have known each other almost 30 years. That’s thirty years of the same jokes. Hang around us for a week and you’ll have Brooks & Reiner’s “2,000 Year Old Man” bit committed to memory. Not to mention more obscure references to The Uncle Floyd Show, the Jackie Puppet, High Feather, the New Zoo Revue, and Myron Cohen.
Paul knows everything about every show he ever watched in his life. And all the advertisements in between. The nostalgia aspect emerges when you find out he’s got hours and hours of commercials from the70s and early 80s on VHS. Commercials are the Rosetta stones of past generations – so telling in fashion and vocabulary. Our resident “snark”-aeologist burrows through boxes at garage sales for these elusive “golden tickets” of culture. I was there when he bought Gnip Gnop at an estate sale (I believe I purchased my Odyssey 2 at the same time). He’s still got his membership card from the original Star Wars fan club (circa’77)!
Fantastic, right? Well, maybe not. I think so, but I too suffer a touch from the sensation once diagnosed as a medical condition. Mal du pays, I believe, Hofer called it.
What does Donna think about this? Same thing Erin does – nothing. All they hear is Paul and me yapping like two old men about the size of Gene Rayburn’s choppers or Monster Week on the “4:30 Movie” (especially delightful as Tostitos crumbs festoon the refried beans).
“Refried beans? So you’re eating already? What about the prep?”
Please don’t interrupt. You know I’ll get to the point eventually. Anyway, we don’t just yammer about the “good ol’ days”; we refer to minutiae in every annex of entertainment from the time of the bicentennial to the cancelation of Mystery Science Theater 3000. We’re Neil Simon’s Sunshine Boys, 40 years too early. In other words, capital boring. Still, it’s our joy, the joy of habit.
I anticipate that moment our wives see us trip into the time machine. I think they might feel themselves the hostages of nostalgia. It begins with a simple spell: “Remember that time…?”
“Remember that time you were going to fix a meal?”
Yes, I do. We’re having enchiladas, okay? And they’re going to be delicious! Years from now, you’ll be sitting around the spaceship saying, “Gosh, I wish I cold get me one of them enchiladas from the early 21st century.”
That’s nostalgia! To continue: Just when you think it couldn’t get anymore uninteresting to everyone else in the room, my brother Jim shows up. Jim loathes nostalgia. And just the past in general. But his arrival triggers more memories from our illustrious youth. Mostly throw-up stories. Yet another topic inappropriate for food columns (remember that, aspiring writers!).
After growing up together in New York, sowing our wild oats (that means drinking boxed zinfandel) in North Carolina, and finally settling down (is it “settling down” when you’re already notoriously lazy) to marry in Oregon, we must bid each other adieu – Paul and Donna are moving to Ohio in October. This was a Last Supper, of sorts; or the “Last Supper Until We Visit Them in the Buckeye State.” Ah, from Beaver to Buckeye! There’s a joke in there, if only I knew what buckeye was!
Erin, a thrill ride enthusiast, was delighted to hear that the famed Cedar Point Amusement Park is a just an hour from their new home. We will be seeing them soon! Terrific – Paul and I can catch up on his latest mid-70s Sears Roebuck Wish Book acquisitions!
Is nostalgia a thing of the past? Lately, styles and tastes change at such an accelerated rate, the joke is one may experience a nostalgia for last week. Irony ruined the 21st century. I’m not sure what I mean by that, but it sounds important. When the past catches up with the present, and the two become almost indistinguishable, nostalgia is lost. Will it go the way of the dinosaurs, vanished these last 5,000 years?
Let us then at least leave the enchilada as it is – perfect. Let’s do the same with love and friendship. Oh, yeah – the recipe! I told you I’d get to it! And best of luck to Paul and Donna on their move!
4 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 clove of garlic (chopped)
1 chopped onion
1/2 large can enchilada sauce
1 can black beans
1 small can green chilies
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mixture
1/4 cup sour cream
Shredded cheese for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in pan. Add chicken to pan and season with about 1 to 2 tbsp Cumin. Add chopped onion and garlic. Cook chicken until finished. Decrease heat to low. Remove chicken, shred with two forks, and return shredded chicken to pan. Add remaining ingredients to shredded chicken and mix well. Coat 2 casserole dishes with non-stick spray or oil. Spoon enchilada filling into tortillas and roll closed. Place them seam side down into casserole dish. Spoon leftover enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas. Top with a thin layer of shredded cheese mixture. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes about 10 enchiladas.
The “In the Sellwood Kitchen” cast and crew can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org