I come from working folks. Both my parents worked hard in factories. My father was a maintenance man is a grubby factory that made dye, and my mother worked nights and, later, days in an electronic components factory. As such, we were never long on money. Couple that with their jobs not leaving much time to prepare fancy meals, my mother was extremely creative with chopped meat.
She would fry it up and mix it with various things – sometimes, macaroni and sometimes, potatoes and vegetables – whatever was in the refrigerator. She would dole out the hot mixture of chopped meat and whatever directly from the frying pan onto a plate or into a soup bowl. I loved it.
One night when I was still young enough to think that this slap-together, low-cost meal actually had a name, I asked my mother what the dish was called. As she was scooping it onto my plate, without missing a beat, she said, “It’s what the cowboys eat. It’s cowboy food.”
So, tonight, more than a half a century later, when I came home from work and Mrs. Parkway said, “I ate out with [a friend and a cousin], but there is some cowboy food in the refrigerator,” I knew exactly what she meant.
I still love cowboy food.