Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dining Out Mexican Style

There is an old Mexican addage: "Como Mexico no hay dos", meaning like Mexico, there is no other and I agree 100%. When you visit, get ready for a trip (journey) but also a mind trip. We arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico after an grueling bus trip, tired and hungry. As we entered the hotel I noticed a taco stand outside and once we were given our room, my wife opted for a nap while I went outside to get me some tacos. Mexicans have never heard of waiting your turn or of standing in line, so getting served was a matter of survival of the fittest. There was the usual jousting, pushing and elbowing and the hand gestures, or whistling to catch the eye of one of the servers, who were racing around filling orders. It must have been arounnd lunchtime since there was a large crowd. After about 12 minutes I was no closer to getting my order in. In an act of desperation I cliked my fingers and finally made eye contact with one of the girls. I shouted in my order and she nodded. After another 10 minutes I caught her eye again and she assured me my tacos were on their way. When my order was finally done, she raced by and slid my plate of tacos accross the counter and disappeared into the chaos. However, there was no salsa anywhere nearby and everybody knows you can't eat tacos without salsa! Again, I tried to make contact with one of the servers so one of them would bring me some salsa. After another 5 minutes, I made contact with the young lady who had served me and shouted out "Salsa! Aqui!" Pointing to my plate of tacos. She looked at me contemptously, grabbed a molcajete filled with salsa and deftly slid it towards me, spilling some of the contents all over the counter. By this time my blood began to steam. To make matters worse, one of the legs of the molcajete was shorter than the other two and the salsa continued to spill. Once again I glared at the girl's back hoping she could feel my growing rage and when our eyes met, I shouted "Look, one of the legs on the molcajete is too short and the salsa is spilling all over the place!" She paused, scowled at me and in an almost acrobatic movement, grabbed a tomato and stuck it under the short leg! I was dumfounded. I ate my tacos quietly, my ego totally burst, and accepted my defeat "como un hombre" (like a man). It is true: Como Mexico no hay dos!


Karla said...

It's been a long time since I've gone to Mexico, but I vividly remember the pageantry of ordering food from a taco stand at 11 PM - when everyone and their grandmother (literally) was craving tacos.
It's funny, but your mention of "lines" and taking turns reminded me of something I was thinking about earlier: this idea of linear progression.
The more books I read from writers outside of the US and Europe, the more I notice that these authors like linear progression/logic. Maybe it's just me. You taught English: is that a valid observation?

Rick Rivers said...

Karla: Never looked at it that way though i have drifted towards writers like James Joyce, Camus etc who I don't think are linear.
The linear stuff comes from being "American" I think. I like things ordered, getting my little "next" number in the stores etc, but inside i like live disorder and a bit of chaos.Logic I love and i fell for Philosophy in college.

*AnairA* said...

the battle for the tacos!

last year i was in jiquilpan michoacan, it was late at night (early morning) la disco had just closed and i headed to the taco stand w/ my primas-- there is nothing like a taco al pastor at 1 o'clock in the morning,tastes even better with the side of lively chatter of friends and family who only reunite once a year.

i experienced the very situation you just described (minus the salsa).

but i bet those tacos were worth it!