Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time” Changes, by David Bowie
Almost 30 years ago…
Mark and I pulled over for breakfast at a café in Coolidge, Arizona, on our way back from the Grand Canyon. He parked the compact rental car between two large white pick-up trucks and muttered, “I want a truck.” (Hmmm, really? I couldn’t quite picture it outside our small cottage in Wargrave, Berkshire, England.)
The place was bright and buzzing. The waitress was working her way down the counter with the Bunn coffee pot, topping up the mugs of Stetson-wearing patrons. She handed us menus as we slid into the last two free stools. I love breakfast, and I was hungry.
“What’s chorizo?” I asked the waitress, when she came back with two waters and offered coffee. I heard a quiet chuckle from under the hat to my right, and she said, “Ah, …a kind of Mexican sausage.”
“Oh, OK. I’ll try that, with two eggs over easy and brown toast.”
My plate arrived with a little pile of something cozying up to the eggs – looking like a cross between coffee grounds and ground beef, within a nimbus of slick, shiny red oil. Unknown, unexpected (I’d only ever seen sausage as links or patties), but delicious! Spicy, chewy, not too hot. A memorable taste of the South West.
My Favorite Chorizo Now
Since then, we’ve moved to the States, bought an off-road truck, and have ready access to chorizo. But, when I started reading the ingredients label on commercially produced chorizo (typically: salivary glands, lymph nodes and fat, paprika, soy flour, salt, vinegar, spices, red pepper, garlic, sodium nitrate), I was turned off.
I was tempted to make homemade chorizo, using Rick Bayliss’s recipe in Mexico, One Plate at a Time, which I’m sure is delicious. Then, I came across Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo. No guts trash, actually no meat at all, and a lot less fat.
Sure, it’s pretty high in sodium (like many commercially produced foods), but, having tasted it once, I was sold. Nice, balanced peppery flavor, not so greasy, easy to digest. I made the mistake once of trying another store’s brand, but so disliked the flavor, I tossed the whole lot out. (Maybe you’d have a different opinion, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.)
A Staple Ingredient
Now, TJ’s soy chorizo is a staple in my fridge. We are more likely to have it for lunch or dinner instead of breakfast, since we usually start the day with a protein shake.
We have it with eggs, but also as a component of other dishes. Last week, we had it on eggplant, garnished with scallions, alongside a roasted sweet potato.
When my vegan friend Jessica came over the other night for dinner, I was inspired to develop it into more of a main dish: Mushroom Chorizo and Peppers over Sunny Mexican Acorn Squash. Even the omnivores among us helped themselves.
Yes, how things change over time.