Sunday, July 5, 2015


My friend, Mike Waterlond, taught me how to make enchiladas in my small kitchen in the house my husband and I rented while attending UVA graduate school. We made corn tortillas from scratch and a tomato sauce with a large can of tomato juice, a quart bottle of beer, along with chiles (the large brown dried ones and a can of jalapeƱos). Mike taught me that to cut the spicy heat of the sauce, you could add more salt. We dipped the tortillas into the cooked down sauce, placed the shell into a pan and added cooked sausage, chopped onions, cheese and black olives. When we had depleted the sausage, we stopped - there must have been 15 of them. As directed I spooned sauce over the lot and added cheese. They went into a 350 degree oven for 1/2 an hour.  Mike married Diane Wakoski a couple of years later; she had come to UVA for a year as poet in residence.
The batch of enchiladas that evening were so hot to the palette that only I could manage two.  I learned that evening that if you had unexpected guests just up the heat or hold the salt. Since then (40 years ago), I have amended the recipe: I now stuff store purchased tortillas with fresh vegetables from the garden. I still add olives and cheese. But if I don't have beer, I add Piri Piri spice. I use home canned tomatoes.  Diane divorced Mike, claiming he was gay. Last night's enchiladas contained zucchini, onions and swiss chard from the garden, red beans, Kalamata olives and sharp cheese. They were delicious.
Mike was the first person I knew fairly well that died of AIDS.  I hadn't heard from him in quite awhile; another classmate and close friend said that he had been working as a lobbyist in DC.  I think of him every time I assemble enchiladas or cook his Round Top chicken soup (which also contains a bottle of beer!).

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