Sometimes my classmates walked to lunch at the Dew Drop Inn. A holdover from the 30’s, a rundown shack painted white with lots of small windows, on the main road, built when that main road sported wagons, and horses.
Dew Drop Inn. The name was painted vertically in black letters on the white posts holding a roof over …
The porch high above the elevated sidewalk. Proprietor: Derley Davis, also dressed in white (apron, pants, and shirt). Famous for his chili. Derley Davis had a secret recipe.
Served steaming in thick white bowls with a blue stripe. Rich reddish-brown chili,
thick and spicy. No tables, just red-topped stools on a u-shaped counter on three sides opposite the front door. Tobasco on the counter for the very, very brave. Saltine crackers, of course, to be crumbled properly. Beans? Yeah, but not many. Now that was some chili.
Eating a lunch there one day, “There’s a leaf in my chili!” I told Mr. Davis. He peered into my bowl.
“That’s a bay leaf,” he said, “Just seasoning.” Nodding my head wisely, 11 years old. Hmmm, I thought. A bay leaf.
… Nine years, two automobiles, and several girls later, for the first time cooking for myself, in College. No dorm for me, wild free spirit and all. And so, cooking for myself. Pity I never paid any attention to what my mother actually did in the kitchen.
But the first time I decided to make chili, I knew just what to do. I went shopping for chili powder, and a secret ingredient.
Six or eight large bay leaves, I think it was.
That was when I learned that a little bay leaf goes a long way.