We were cooking, and near beer

Grant McGee

My friend Lizzie was reading the newspaper.
“I want to know where they’re stealing it from,” she said out loud.
“What,”I asked. “Stealing what?”
“Beer, she said. “Here in the police report section I see reports of stolen beer. I want to know where they’re stealing it from because you can’t find any to buy around here.”
Lizzie was referring to our Great Cooking Beer Hunt. The incident was like buying beer for the first time all over again — not so much the buying as the finding.
Neither Lizzie nor I indulge in adult beverages. Lizzie’s philosophy is her private matter. As for me, I stopped back in 1998.
The Great Cooking Beer Hunt was prompted by a chat I had with a Clovis woman about things to fix in advance for lunch at work like beans, stews, pastas and such.
“You should try borrachos,” she said.
Now, I know a little Spanish and I know borracho means “drunk.”
“When you cook your beans,” she instructed, “use bacon instead of a ham hock and use a can of beer in with your water to cook the beans. About an hour before you’re finished, put in some onions, cilantro and tomatoes. The alcohol cooks off. The beer adds some body. My husband loves ‘em.”
“I need a can of beer for that recipe,” I said to Lizzie as we returned from Portales one night.
There were no single beers to be found at the first convenience store where we stopped. There were six packs, giant 24-ounce cans, 40-ounce bottles and cases. I didn’t need the extra beer. I just needed a single can for my beans.
Off to the north side of Clovis we went, to the convenience store across from Clovis High School.
No beer.
I shrugged my shoulders as I got back in the car. “They probably don’t sell it here because it’s close to the high school. We’ll go to the one up at Martin Luther King and 21st,” I told Lizzie. “If it’s not there, I’ll go to the grocery store tomorrow.”
“If these guys have six packs, get one and we’ll find something to cook it with over the next few months,” Lizzie said.
I got out at the store across from the hospital. I stood at the door and looked in.
No beer.
Lizzie and I laughed.
“I thought all convenience stores sold beer,” I said, remembering my days in other cities and states.
Then it became a challenge. Would we find our cooking beer? We went to two other convenience stores and found none. We ended up going to the supermarket for a six pack.
I was shocked by the prices, but it had been a few years since I bought beer. I opted for the stuff that sold for $2.99 a six pack.
The next morning I poured a can in with my beans to cook all day. That evening I shared my beans with Lizzie.
“Well, what did the beer do?” I asked, looking for an assessment of the new recipe.
“Hmmm,” Lizzie said. “It adds a yeasty kind of body.”
I don’t know if the “yeasty” flavor was worth driving all over Clovis in pursuit of cooking beer, but I have five cans of it in the fridge if I want to make borrachos again.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: