Redneck Tale # 34 – Carlos, Salvador and their secret menudo recipe

Carlos and Salvador
Carlos and Salvador

Neighbors to keep you wide awake

There is the possibility that my neighbor brothers were of the illegal immigrant flavor, but that could be considered to be a matter of taste. To describe them as spicy, peppery, or full of something would, on the other hand, be most appropriate.

The small house next door had been empty for a time. In a city as large as this one, that is a bit of a scary situation. People of all sorts wander around in these big places and, if the weather speaks to them, and if shelter beckons, one or more of those wanderers may decide to move in. So, when Carlos and Salvador came along and rented the place, it seemed like it might be time to celebrate.

Along with Carlos and Salvador came a host of friends and relatives, but the two managed to keep them all in line. There were pretty ladies, some of whom were "showing," and there were lots of little children, those who had already "shown." Friends, possibly some more relatives among them, would pop in from time to time, particularly on weekends. Weekends were for parties next door. It was always fun to watch our neighbors having fun.

 

Fence-style soccer

The wide and empty backyard became a soccer field. There was no ordinary net to be used, however. When the football hit our fence – that was a goal, and those occasions were often and gave rise to loud whistling and cheering. Not speaking Mexican-Spanish, we did not understand the cheering words, but the whistling came through loud and clear.

Those kicks for the goals missed more times than they hit. You might ask, "How can the kicker miss a 150-foot long fence?" Easy enough. The fence was only four feet high. Footballs soar. That kept us busy chasing the misses and tossing the footballs back over the fence. Tossing back beat having hefty footballers leaping our fence all the time. It was our price of admission to the games.

 

TV time

Another feature of those weekend gatherings was the seating of a semi-circle of spectators about 10 feet in front of one of the bedroom windows. A TV set had been placed on the inside, facing the window. Usually the TV audience consisted of a half dozen or so menfolk, older men who were not able to kick soccer balls over our fence.

 

In the boiling pot - nothing but good stuff
In the boiling pot - nothing but good stuff

The making of a secret recipe

Earlier in the mornings of such weekends, Salvador and Carlos set up their impromptu cookstove on the concrete patio. They put a large propane torch in between some concrete blocks and, on top of the blocks, they perched a really large aluminum cauldron. Into the bowl would go the makings of gallons of menudo. The torch was lighted and the menudo was soon bubbling away. It took lots of menudo to satisfy the big crowd to follow.

I was out back one weekend morning when little Carlos, Jr., about 4 years old or so, came outside to the bubbling menudo pot. At first I thought the kid might scorch himself, but my worrying was not needed. He unbuttoned the front of his little pants and wee-weed into the pot. Now, I ask you...

At first I thought to holler at the kid. "Nope. That will only scare him and make him cry." Then, "should I tell Carlos and Salvador that the kid had peed into their menudo?" "Nope. They’d likely beat the you-know-what out of the little guy." Then came some serious thinking. "Well, it is unlikely that the tyke has a seriously catching disease, and even if he does, that boiling menudo will certainly take care of any germs – and the kid just may have come onto the ‘secret spice’ to end all secret spices." Everyone at their party seemed to enjoy the menudo. I knew then that I had done well.

Bye Bye Birdie

I came home one weekday afternoon to find both Carlos and Salvador up in our big oak tree. They were clambering around up there, yelling back and forth at each other. Now and then one or both of them would stretch out their arms as though they were grabbing for something. Then more clambering. I approached closer. Aha! They were chasing after a little blue and white bird. Just as they got close to it, the bird fluttered over to the next branch. Then the men grabbed up a fishing net and tried to get the bird into captivity that way. Nothing worked. The bird finally became tired of the whole silly game and flew away. Carlos told me that it was their pet parakeet and had been let out of its cage by the 4-year-old. A most busy and enterprising child, that one.

One of those noisy leafblowers
One of those noisy leafblowers

A big blow for cleanliness

I came home on another weekday afternoon right at the same time Salvador arrived home from his grasscutting job. On his back was strapped one of those leafblower gadgets, the kind with the annoyingly loud gasoline motors. He went inside their house by the back door, but he forgot to close the door. That was strange, given that the outside temperature was about 95 degrees, maybe even higher.

Then I heard the leafblower motor start up, nice and loud, too, considering it was inside the house. All of a sudden a huge cloud of dust and dirt came flying out the back door. I had never before seen a whole house get "blown out" like that.

Secret recipe gasoline
Secret recipe gasoline

A recommended fuel stop along the way

You have to know that it was a sad day for us when Carlos, Salvador, and their ample families moved away. Before they left, they told us that they were heading for Chicago where they had more family and more friends.

I couldn’t help myself, I confess. I asked Carlos if he would be taking his big menudo pot and the secret menudo recipe with them. With a serious look on his face, Carlos told me that the pot belonged to Salvador, that he, Carlos, was keeper of the "family recipe," and that, "Yes, it is all going with us." Then I bid Carlos and Salvador good-bye and asked them if they had planned where they would be buying gasoline to get all the way to Chicago. I suggested one stop where I knew fuel to be both good and cheap.

I kept a solemn face through that final conversation – until I was again inside our own house. Have you ever laughed so hard that tears flowed and your belly began to hurt?

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Comments 7 comments

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I certainly hope little Carlos Jr. gets to grow up. I guess he is good at being sly!

I guess my old home town hasn't changed that much after all. I remember growing up on the North Side like I never left. All of my family have moved away from Houston, but I will never forget it. It sure made me Cosmopolitan!


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi Austinstar - I have wondered about that whole crew since they moved away several years ago.

Gus :-)))


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

You have created an image, Gus, that will be difficult if not impossible to dispel - that little tyke relieving himself in the menudo pot. I can see it now. I've heard of adding exotic flavors to the mix but this one is just too hysterical to forget. Thanks for this funny and realistic hub.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

Good Doctor bj - First things first - you are entirely welcome for the article. I am delighted that you enjoyed it. As for the contents of the article, as difficult to believe as it might be, the whole thing is the truth, nothing but the truth, and the whole truth other than what my memory has likely discarded. To have had the real privilege of living next door to that crew kept me smiling and away from aging for several years. The real lie I perpetrated on you wonderful readers was the photo of that gasoline station sign. My day would have been complete had I made the photo myself, but I did not do so.

Gus :-)))


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Gus yes my belly hurt a number of times here in your great story. The kid peeing in the menudo was priceless. I kept thinking back to the urban rumor that Corona beer has pee in it from it's brewery back in Mexico. I little taste for the people in America - anyway I digress. I can just see you when they were eating that Menudo just dying inside. I then couldn't stop laughing with the tale of the dust and the blower. Another great story Gus thanks bud.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

b.a.d. - I have been told that there are some stories that simply cannot be made up through either skill or imagination. This was one of those stories that could not be "made up." The only fakery in it was that pee pee gasoline station image. The other images were all "stock photos," too. Funny thing was that Carlos and Salvador actually looked very similar to the guys in the photo. Thank you for having had a fun moment with this article.

Gus :-)))


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Very true the best stories are the true ones that you just can't make up.

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