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Louis Fowler’s Pandemic Journal: Medicinal Menudo

5:36 AM EDT on March 30, 2020

Saturday, OKC Mayor David Holt took a few minutes out from his job of taking photographs with plates of Made in Oklahoma-branded foodstuffs to announce an amendment to his emergency proclamation, “explicitly” implementing a much vaunted shelter-in-place order.

What that means, basically, is that you must remain inside your house at all times, with the exception of going outside, going to the store, getting some gas, going to a restaurant to get take-out or drive-thru, going to the doctor, going for walks and maybe jogs, having a bike ride and, of course, motherfucking fishing.

So it’s basically everything you have been doing and doing well, unless, of course, you live in some small redneck town where Obummer ain’t gonna tell you how to live. If you’re caught not following the order within city limits, by the way, the po-po can fine you up to $750. There goes most of that stimulus check.

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I needed to take a break from the constant living room-based talking heads, so I went for a long walk, breathing in deep the possibly infected air. It was a clear and sunny day, with my ear-buds playing a wholly perceptive INXS mix—“We’re leaving broken hearts behind…”—as I walked down N.W. 12th, past the perplexing Miller neighborhood towards May Ave.

There’s an Anon gas station there that was recently renamed Los Cuñados, according to the hanging banner; I’m guessing they’re under new management. The Sharpie-written sign on the glass door said they had the nouveau convenience store necessity of face-masks and latex gloves, but more importantly, they also sold homemade menudo on Sabado y Domingo.

I would die—quite literally, it seems—for some medicinal menudo.

Latinos have their own ways of dealing with the horrors of the world, and this pandemic is no different; an absolute cure-all made from hominy and tripa, it is our own Chicano soup for the soul. (It also kind of made me wish my abuela was still alive, because I know I’d be riding this virus out in the badlands of South Texas, plenty of big bowls at my disposal. Pozole too.)

Thankfully, the guy who owns Los Cuñados still had plenty left, packing a huge to-go container for me, sealing it tight with cling-wrap. In a brown paper bag, he stuffed some maiz tortillas, limes wedges, chopped onion and other apocalyptic accouterment; I gave him a few bucks and started the somewhat long walk home, coughing a little bit on the way.

I hope it’s nothing.

When I got home, I cleared the table and spread my beautiful bounty across it, supporting this local business the best way I know how; each hot spoonful of rojo broth was plentiful with chiles and their seeds opening up my sinuses, the chewy cow stomach filling my own, giving me a long-dead taste of the long-gone past.

You know…I could make this here at home. I should make this here at home. Maybe I will.

Looking up at the television, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview that deaths could go up to 200, 000 in the U.S. That reminds me…I need to pick up some Diet 7-Up, Vicks Vaporub and a Virgin Mary novena candle—anything helps, ese.

Better try Whittaker’s. They haven’t run out of anything so far, except avocados.

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 Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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