Historiann has a post about food (so does someone else, but I read it on the phone and now can’t find it).

I remember being a sophomore in high school, or thereabout, and while I was pretending to be on an athletic team, we did a week in Tahoe to train/have fun. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school, complete with uniforms. One night the coach cooked tacos.

The taco meat was ground beef, drained and browned. Period. To be put in tacos (those horrible pre-crisped shell things!) and garnished with salsa, lettuce, sour cream, etc. I was not impressed.

I learned to make tacos by the age of 9 or 10. Twenty years later, it was still one of the few dishes I knew. But in my family, this is how we make taco meat:

  • brown and drain the ground beef (I have now switched to fake ground beef, no draining required, much easier and quicker)
  • add a regular size can of kidney beans (preferably dark red)
  • add a small can of tomato sauce
  • stir in a spice packet and some extra oregano (my mother says she doesn’t use spice packets, but that’s sure how she taught me as a kid)
  • let it all simmer together for a bit, creating a nice thick flavorful filling that can even stand alone if you are tragically out of salsa and have let the sour cream go bad
  • guaranteed to have leftovers to put on nachos, etc

Lumpia is another one of my childhood recipes. I learned years later that I make peasant’s lumpia, with lots of potatoes. I still think chili with no beans has a weird texture.
I don’t think I realized until I hit grad school that poor people add beans to meat to make it stretch further.