Fame did not come as I wanted.
Jim Belshaw, beloved semi-retired newspaper columnist and apparent early riser, emailed me at 6:09 a.m. Sunday after seeing my name attached to a comment in the New York Times
“Is this you?” he demanded, ever the newsman.
In my still sleepy haze, I recognized a slightly snarky comment about kidney beans.
For the record, The Times has for years ignored my thoughts on literature and world peace. What finally triggered mention was a note I wrote in 2014, praising pinto beans and putting down mealy, tough-skinned kidneys in connection with a “Texas chili” recipe shared by the usually sharp newspaper.
Here is a complete transcript of my appearance in the Times:
Apparently “Texas Chili” should have no beans, though one reader, John Robertson, concedes that if you must add them, his “preference for any bean in proximity to chili or chile always will be the toothsome, flavorful and inherently noble pinto.”
I read to to the bottom, looking for more of my erudite discussion of beans, but that was it. I acknowledge, however, that some of the other citations in “New York Times Recipe Commenters (Politely) Spill Their Guts” were much funnier than mine.
“Who eats a chuck roast cooked with a stick of butter?” asked one polite commenter.
Another noted that both Jeb Bush and President Obama had written to complain about that infamous green peas-in-your-guacamole recipe.
And another questioned food writer Mark Bittman’s 40-minute recipe for the “Best Scrambled Eggs.”
I should have remembered the sage advice reported by Times food and congressional writer Jennifer Steinhauer, quoting Texas food historian Robb Wash: “I don’t disagree with anyone’s chili.” But I felt I was in good company in this column by Times comment moderator Lisa Tarchak.
Still, I am a little worried about my legacy.
I fear that my top Google search terms will forever be: “John Robertson, beans.”