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My Dad and Texas Caviar

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For this family, Father's Day love is best felt around a cool pool, a hot grill, and a big bowl of bean dip.

Every year since I can remember, my family has hosted a Father’s Day party. Looking back, I must admit that I always loved that day for pretty selfish reasons (sorry, Dad). School was just getting out for summer, and I got to hang in the pool with my cousins while my Dad made us (virgin) margaritas and piña coladas. We drank them out of the cheap plastic glasses that you can buy in bulk at every party supply store. I felt like a seasoned, A-list celebrity at the ripe age of thirteen. Sure, it was Dad’s day, but I certainly loved all the benefits I reaped from the celebration.

Like anything involving my family, there was no shortage of good food. For dinner, my dad would post up behind the grill until his entire face glistened with sweat as he tended to countless burgers, chicken breasts, and whatever other proteins he found on sale at Costco that week. Relatives brought salads and pasta dishes. I’d contribute a blueberry crumble for dessert. However, the food that was most often buzzed about among my family was the Texas Caviar appetizer dip that my Dad always made. The most straightforward and simple dish, Texas Caviar was usually the reason everyone was too full once dinnertime rolled around. (Read: everyone still ate dinner, plus dessert, and enjoyed both thoroughly. However there was added discomfort as the meal progressed.)

Texas Caviar is a bean salad that’s loaded with peppers, tomatoes, corn, and fresh herbs. Dressed with oil and vinegar, all the components complement one another, without soaking and seeping together too much that the salad becomes mush. I like to say that I was raised in a “feta-friendly” household (partly because feta makes everything taste better and partly because my dad can’t resist the low bulk prices of feta at Costco), so the addition of this crumbly, tangy cheese was almost intuitive. The creaminess of the cheese cuts the acidity of the vinegar dressing while adding bursts of flavor between bites of beans and vegetables. Bowls of hummus and salsa and sour cream dip were left untouched, while anxious, chip-bearing hands hovered over the bowl of Texas Caviar.

This year, my family’s annual Father’s Day party has come to an end—we’re all spread out across the country—so unfortunately, I won’t get to see my dad this Father’s Day, and he won’t get to hear me remind him to be generous with the feta in the Texas Caviar. I’m not quite sure how to celebrate Father’s Day when dad’s not around, but I’m thinking about a piña colada, this time with alcohol (!), and some Texas Caviar. Is that selfish of me?

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