I am a friend to:
eggs and
the meditative journey of achieving perfect home fries–

olive oil on medium until it just begins to spit wisps of smoke
add potatoes, coat in oil and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
spread out evenly in the pan
let sit, brown. Seriously. Stay away. Warm your tortillas. Scramble your eggs.
let the potatoes brown.

ok. check one. Turn it over.
It’s not brown yet is it you fuck. Stop it.

I am a friend of coffee
Morning, noon, night. Four scoops of Bustelo in a French Press.
Is the water ready? 190 degrees. That’s a setting on the kettle, not me being precious about temperature. If I set it to boil and forget, it will spill out over the counter, possibly boil down to nothing, become superheated, start a fire and kill us all. Except my son. Lucky kid. He knows this day is coming. He went off to university. Tucked safely in his dorm. Seeking therapy after cheating on his girlfriend. Being the kind of 18 that is foreign but refreshing to me.

allright. Turn the potatoes before they burn Jesus Christ.
Brown, right. Aren’t they beautiful?
Beauty isn’t enough. They’re still raw and crunchy.
Toss and turn. Flick your wrist in an upward motion while pulling your arm back. This gently propels the potatoes into the air. Flip again. Think about physics in a non-specific way. Think if it’s possible to shuffle a deck of cards so many times that you end up where you started.
Cover and reduce the heat to low

Low heat is freedom. You are no longer entangled in this cast iron relationship. Untethered you can plunge your French press, go have a smoke. Let the heat rise up through the raw potato, so perfectly browned.
A raw potato is alive, you can bury that potato in the ground and grow a plant.
The only delicious potato is a dead potato.
After a lifetime of Sundays pursuing the meditative journey of achieving perfect home fries,
you will know when to take the lid off

I am a friend to eggs and corn tortillas. fried potatoes and beans.
slick black cast iron skillets
I don’t often have the time for caramelized onions, but I still consider them friends.
I am vinegar’s friend contrary to idle gossip and grainy photographs of pursed lips.
I would back rice in a knife fight. Does that make us friends?

My childhood, set to a cinematic score that touches and lights gently on sepia toned penury, was abbreviated, aborted when I discovered a paperback compilation of my favorite comic strip characters reimagined in various pornographic tableaux. Lucy and Charlie Brown, Snuffy Smith and Loweezy, Hagar and Helga. A childhood of spoiled milk and dry cereal and one spectacular OD on Flintstones Vitamins. I never returned the book to my father’s underwear drawer. When he confronted me on his deathbed, a few weeks after I’d found it, I told him everything. He told me he was sorry. I knew nothing about point of view at that age, our first grade teacher was just out of college, but my father referred to himself in the third person, as Daddy. Lying there, his thick brylcreemed hair wild on the hospital pillow, he said, Daddy’s going on a long trip son, and everyone agrees with me that the reason you don’t have any friends is because you’re too sensitive.
But dad.
I started to cry. I had to laugh as well. Rage blossomed deep in the pit of my stomach. I reached out and brushed a roguish lock of jet black hair from his worried brow.
He was too weak to say any more.

All of this is to say,
I am a friend to the fish he fried, the half pound of ground beef he would smash in a smoking pan, transferring it to a thin slice of Wonder bread in response to my foolish attraction to McDonalds.

I am a friend of Whataburger now, but not of its depiction by filmmakers taking a shortcut to characterize Texas. Think of Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, and be satisfied with your high minded conclusions.

Finally I am a friend of this cold oatmeal concoction that my daughter prepares every Sunday and portions out in Tupperware as my breakfast for the week. Frozen blueberries melt and merge with raisins and coconut milk. A wistfully sentimental combo that tickles the edge of maudlin.

Selected byRaymond Huffman
Image credit:Violetta

Anthony Hughes is no Luddite, but he misses the zip and spin of rotary dial phones. Dialing someone with a lot of O's in their number could be a pain in the ass though, if you were in a hurry. He lives in Deep South Texas, enjoys a strong back, crawling, and talking about himself in the third person.