Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Utensils - Mexican Style

A few years ago I went to a BBQ cookout at a friend's house in Texas. She, along with most of her family, was born in Mexico and is now living in the states.  Mexicans sure know how to season the carne (meat) and asar (grill) it to perfection.  Along with the frijoles (beans) and arroz (rice) there was salsa (salsa) and pico de gallo (chopped up tomatos, onions, jalapenos, cilantro with lemon juice).  Everything in parentheses are translations for my gringo and guero (Yankee and white) friends.

So I loaded up my plate and sat down to eat except I couldn't find a fork or knife.  I asked my friend about utensils and she informed the me, the nitwit northern foreigner, that's what tortillas are for.  Huh?  Observe this, she says to me as she folds a tortilla in half and then rips into two pieces at first and then rips the half piece into two more pieces.  Then with the same skill level as Asians eating pieces of rice with chopsticks, she used one piece of tortilla to scoop bits of meat, frijole, rice and salsa into another piece of tortilla to eat sans utensils. This ritual goes on until the plate is wiped clean. It looked easy enough so I gave it try.  The tortilla tearing went OK but the scooping part didn't go so well.  I ended up with a smear of beans and the meat fell out before it hit my mouth. Fast forwarding to present day I am proud to say that I can now use tortillas like utensils. Maybe not as good as my friend, but most of it gets in my mouth instead of my lap.

Now, if I can just get the hang of chopsticks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


The term pocho, as defined by the greatest source, Wikipedia, since the encyclopedias in your home that were sold by the door-to-door salesman:
  • A person of Mexican heritage who is assimilated and acts "American" (a "wannabe" American).
  • A Mexican-American who can speak little or no Spanish.
  • An American who speaks Spanish and acts "Mexican" (a "wannabe" Mexican).
  • A person who frequently crosses the U.S.-Mexican border and feels at home on both sides of the border.

Today I was in Normal Land, also known as Texas, although some would say "thar ain't nuttin' normal 'bout Tuh-ex-us".  Kind of hard to disagree with that one. Actually, Iowa is Normal Land to me.  I'm not saying Iowa is the greatest place to be right now because the temperature is hovering around 0.  That would be ZERO as in bone-freezing cold.  But from now on, Iowa will be known as Normal Land and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas will be known as Pocho Land.  The following is an actually conversation I heard this afternoon at Denny's between the waitress and the customer.

"Quieres los French fries?" asked the waitress.
"Si," replied the customer.
"Quieres los seasoned French fries?" questioned the waitress.
"Si," replied the customer again.

I've heard other conversations like this in the past.  My dear friend Norma who I worked with at a school in Mission was talking to another teacher one day and the dialogue went something like this:

"Vamos a Walmart so we can comprar los zapatos,"  (Let's go to Walmart so we can buy shoes.)
No puedo. After school voy a llevar mija to soccer practice.  (I can't. After school, I gotta take my daughter to soccer practice.)
And that is how 3/4 of the Valley speaks.  Some would say they are bastardizing the Spanish language. Others would say they should learn to speak English correctly.  I, personally, think Pocho Land is a unique blend between Mexican and American culture and as long as both parties understand each other, that is the most important thing.  After all, the word Spanglish is listed in the Oxford English and the Merriam-Webster dictionaries so it must be a recognized form of language? 

Excuse me. Tengo sueƱo. I am going to sleep porque estoy cansada.  Good noche!