First we were planning to eat nothing but guacamole and Tostitos Gold corn chips for dinner, something we are very happy to do periodically, especially with the absurdly perfect out-of-season avocados to be had at Costco. This is not our ecologically finest moment, to be sure, but perhaps we are just spending a bit of seasonal-eating credit that we built up by eating all that celery root? Anyhow, on this occasion I was suddenly seized with the unusual sensation of minding the not particularly supperlike qualities of chips and guacamole alone.
Then I thought perhaps I should make fideos, since they look so pretty and sound so good and have the curious advantage of being a genuine meal, but it turns out that I lacked several of the criterial ingredients, so that was out. Then I thought I might make tostadas with black beans and some of those nice fideos toppings, but of course I don't have any corn tortillas in the house, either. However, I do have the aforementioned Tostitos Gold, which are not so classy but are, I think, actually quite tasty. They're nice and thick and taste of corn (and salt, of course).
So I took a couple of pasta bowls and put a handful of corn chips at the bottom of each one, and put these in a 200°F oven to warm through while I made a quick batch of black beans -- onions and garlic and peppers in oil, a can of black beans and a shake of ground chipotle, salt, and pepper dumped on top and cooked until thick instead of runny.
Meanwhile I also made a little bowl of pickled onions: thinly sliced onions with salt, a little bit of sugar, and plenty of cider vinegar. When the beans were ready, the dishes came out of the oven. The beans were ladled over the chips and topped with the onions, some peeled and sliced avocado, and a crumbling of white cheese (queso blanco). Lemon juice (no limes in the house) over all, and hot sauce passed at the table.
Heating the plates and chips was a good idea, as it did a lot to preserve an interesting contrast of temperatures and textures. Sour cream would have been a nice addition for those who like it, too, no doubt.
Now, you might say that what I had there were nachos. I submit that they were not quite nachos, though they did of course bear a passing resemblance. After all, there are several dishes in the California-Texas-Mexico matrix that differ not so much in their ingredients as in the configuration of these ingredients. Whatever it was that I made tonight differed from nachos in that we ate them with forks, in the proportion of chips to other things, and in the lack of both melty cheese and salsa.