"My brother-in-law, man, he go crazy on drugs."

"Oh yeah?" I picked the man up at the Emanuel E.R.

"He stab my sister six times, but she gonna be OK."

We're silent as I shoot up the Banfield to outer Northeast. I really can't think of anything to say, until the guy leans over and asks if I like posole.

It's a pretty random question, especially given the circumstances, but the answer happens to be a very enthusiastic "yes." His face lights up, and he begins telling me about how he's a cook, and all of his friends are cooks, and that they've made a huge pot of posole for the holidays. As I steer into the parking lot of his battered apartment complex, he insists that I come in and eat some. I'm hesitant, but he's persistent, and it's posole, and he doesn't seem like an ax murderer...

And it's some of the best food I've ever eaten in my life, huddled over a battered secondhand table with five other men in a small kitchenette. I feel awkward and alien until the guy on my right and I fall into excited conversation about making mole with barbecued pork shoulder, and a connection is made.

Just then, my fare stumbles back into the room with a carseat. It turns out that it's a round trip, and my cheeks redden with embarrassment and concern for the child who must be at the hospital. I hurry him back as quickly as I can.