Van de Camp’s Pork and Beans. ‘Nuff said. IKR?!


I was raised in a budget minded household by parent who had been raised in budget minded households, whose parents had in turn been raised in budget minded households. While we, as children, were often afforded an animal protein at each of our meals, my mother rarely missed an opportunity to ensure we also had complementary proteins. (“Hi, how are you? OMG who did your hair? It looks amazing!”) A family fan favorite has always been beans. My Aunt Priscilla was the guardian of my father’s family’s bean recipe. The main ingredients were brown sugar and bacon. (IKR?) Being a working mother and a product of the Modern Era, mom was a big believer in frozen and canned foods. I mean her parents, and my father’s, had canned food themselves so having preserved foods on the shelf was de rigueur.  For those of you who have had children or ever seen Mary Poppins, you know that (a spoon full of sugar . . .) goes a long way to get your children to consume what is good for them.


In this case it was beans. Van DeKamps are chock full of sugar. In addition to bringing us a near limerick, I found myself buying multiple cans for my shelves, after I moved out on my own.  At dinner time, lunch time, or even just for a snack, I would open a can, heat it on the stove and finish it off with a piece or two of bread and a large glass of milk. I mean cowboys did it. (I lived alone at the time.) Then one day my dear mum made tacos. Ground beef seasoned with Lawry’s Seasoning, chopped – hot house – tomatoes, sliced iceberg lettuce, premade taco shells (she was a working mother after all,) and something new to me . . . refried beans.


What are these?


Soon after my first Taco Bell experience occurred and Mexican food became my new national dish. I would hunt for taco trucks when working in Oakland. The joke about being a cunning linguist plumbed new depths when I discovered Lengue. Rich and amazing but nothing without the beans and rice. After many years of eating great, and not so great, street food I became a bit of a connoisseur. To my delight, many of those intrepid entrepreneurs have added brick and mortar restaurants to their mobile cuisines.


One such place is Tacos Jalisco at 3420 Sonoma Blvd. The minute we walked in the impression was nothing short of wow. The place was clean, put together and the aroma from the kitchen divine. I will admit to a touch of anxiety in the first few moments. You see, you must wait in line at the counter to place your order, then you need to find a place in the dining room. The line was a bit long and I was nervous as to whether we would have to stand and wait for a seat. It was not a problem. The dining room was of ample size and the chairs I found to be comfortable enough.

I ordered this fan’s favorite – dos enchiladas. Uno pollo, uno lengue.  The plate came out of the cocina steaming and full. I love how the refried beans just melt and how the bit of cheese they put on top made them oh so rico. The enchiladas were prepared perfectly and the sauce atop was fresh and delightful. We are truly blessed to have so much good food here in Vallejo and TJ (hey those are my initials!) is right up there on my list of Yum – get – me – some places. Oh, and they have amazing Tamarindo Margaritas, if you are at all interested.


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Until next time,


Eat Well and Smile Often

Tommy Judt



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