I am not sure when or how it began, but I have always eaten pinto beans the same way. I get a big bowl of beans, slather my cornbread in butter, and then squirt a liberal dose of tomato ketchup on top of the beans before I devour them. I alternate bites of beans with bites of cornbread and wash it all down with a big glass of iced tea.
For years, I assumed that everyone in the world ate their beans the same way my brother and I ate ours. I knew that my cousins preferred mayonnaise on their beans, but they were always a little different (just plain weird) about certain things. These are the same cousins who ate their scrambled eggs covered with ketchup. The idea of eating scrambled eggs first thing in the morning is disgusting enough, but the mere thought of eggs and ketchup is enough to make me gag.
Years ago, I watched my friend and neighbor, Fred Young, play a member of Patsy Cline’s band in a movie about her life. In the movie, there’s a scene where Fred squirts ketchup on his scrambled eggs and then proceeds to gobble them up. I don’t remember anything about the movie after that scene. I gagged on my popcorn and had to leave the theater. The moral to this story is that while ketchup on beans is wonderful, there are some foods that it just doesn’t mix with…at least not in my stomach.
Some folks like their cornbread crumbled up in their beans; my grandmother preferred it that way. I can’t say as I’m opposed to the cornbread in the beans, just as long as the ketchup goes on top. My mother was a sauerkraut fan and I’ve seen her cover a bowl of beans with it. Kraut might taste good, but I’ll never know because I can’t get past the smell. Why would anyone want to eat something that smells like stinky socks?
Years ago, my uncle married an Italian lady who could make great spaghetti and lasagna, but she had never heard of beans and cornbread. She called my grandmother and asked for help and, according to my uncle, she tried periodically to cook them but never succeeded in making them as good as Grandma. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last, but years later when my uncle remarried, wife number two was an American who grew up on…you guessed it…beans and cornbread.