On Family, Memory, Nachos, and Vomit #NaBloPoMo

I have hesitated, for months, putting up this post. Why would someone talk about such an indelicate subject- a bodily function, on a food blog? But, today, I share with you the tale of the chili cheese nachos car trip from hell. Why? Because it’s pretty funny, of course.

So, I post this story with a word of warning, though it is not explicit, it does mention vomiting. Lots of vomiting.
Nachos & Vomit“The chicken is just a little dry” said my aunt. It was not. It never was. “Perhaps I used a bit too much curry”. She did not. The curry was a new and exciting addition to her very French roast chicken.

Each time we ate a perfect lunch. Each time, she picked it apart. Each time, we assured her it was, indeed, perfect. Inevitably, the conversation of too much curry or bland green beans or overdone rice would be resurrected on our evening walk through the country roads.

The day of the roast chicken with curry was no different. Perfect meal, lovely walk, kiss goodbye. We piled into the family station wagon. My mom and dad sat in front. My brother and I sat in the back with my grandmother in between us. There was traffic. Lots and lots of traffic and by the time we hit the freeway, my little brother was HUNGRY. The bay was stinky with that low-tide open-sewer smell. We could see waves of heat coming off the road and the cars along side us. Everyone was hot, hungry, and more than a little cranky.

My dad pulled over at 7-11. My brother, perhaps eight at the time, went straight for the nachos and topped them with chili and cheese. At eighteen, I was a budding cook, a vegetarian (who eschewed the curried chicken), mildly snobbish, and abhorrent of any food that could be purchased in a convenience store. I chose my usual diet coke and an Evian. My brother was saddled with none of this baggage and dug into the nachos with fervor.

You may be wise. You may be thinking that holiday traffic, Ford Taurus wagons, hundred degree temperatures, curried chicken, and chili cheese nachos are a recipe for a particularly gross kind of disaster. We, however, were not wise.

The freeway still reeked and radiated heat, but the smell of the nachos was intense. My brother and grandmother didn’t seem to mind, as they were eating those cheesy chips of doom. The rest of us, however, insisted on having all the windows open. Traffic began to pick up a bit, just a bit, and my dad seized an opportunity to get over into a lane that seemed to be moving. A quick maneuver, a slight lurch, and all of the sudden, my feet are hot and wet. My grandmother, without a word of warning had emptied the contents of her stomach.

Now, puking grandmothers in the middle seat are bad enough, but when you get a group of sympathetic pukers going, havoc is wreaked. (Think the pie eating scene in Stand By Me.) First my brother goes- and it’s bad because the window is open and we’re sort of moving now. Also, we’re in a station wagon, so you know, of course, the back windows only open half way. Child safety and all. Now all three of us are sprayed with nacho cheese barf.
I am in shock. Horrified and regretting that I was ever born, at this point. My grandmother is making these disgusting, retching sounds, and that’s when my dad, the driver, vomits. Right. Out. The Window. On. The. Freeway. My mom promptly follows suit. And… traffic stops again.

I am now covered in vomit, shrieking, and also laughing hysterically. I demand my father pull the car over at the very next exit. He maneuvers the Taurus through traffic and we get off the freeway. The exit? Magazine Street in Richmond. Richmond is a perfectly lovely city, I’m sure, but this was 1992 at the height of the crack epidemic. People are shooting one another on a terribly regular basis.

We pull over in the parking lot of an abandoned warehouse. Two young men are in the far corner and seem shocked to see us get out of the car. When they see me, furiously trying to remove grandma vomit from my person, they stare quizzically.

We use every paper towel, every wet nap, every tissue trying to clean up, but there is no erasing the memory of what just happened… or the smell.

In the end, I am the only one who keeps the contents of her stomach in place. We’ll never know whether it was the chicken, the heat, the nachos, the smell of those nachos, or the stinky bay that launched the most disgusting car trip I’ve ever endured, but it really doesn’t matter.

Though my mom, my dad, and my grandmother are gone now, this day still lives. My brother and I can laugh until we cry when this story comes up. Memories are funny that way. What once was dreadful softens around the edges like a close up on an aging star. Oh, but I still can’t stand the smell of 7-11 nachos.

If, for some reason, you are in the mood for nachos or chili, here are some awesome recipes

Paleo Nachos from Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind
Gluten Free Nachos from yours truly
Paleo Slow Cooker Chili from moi
Black Bean Chili with Chocolate from Healthy Green Kitchen
Three Bean Vegetarian Chili from Pinch My Salt

me eating nachos

Shared Memories
My Little Brother
& of course Nachos!


  1. alphaprep says

    That is *amazing* and horrifying. Interestingly, one of the only times I've been seriously sick after eating was an incident with a curried chicken salad.

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