Lost In Translation

I know very little Spanish.  Several years ago, I learned a couple of essential terms for survival while on a trip to Mexico–tres queso(three cheese) quickly followed by bano, (bathroom).  For my husband, the second term was absolutely essential.  Poor thing.  But, that’s another post.  Fast forward to a recent trip we took to Talequah, Oklahoma.  In spite of my language deficiencies, Mexican food is one of my favorites.  I may not speak it, but I can eat it with the best of ’em.  Before leaving, I searched the internet for the best Mexican food in town by reading local restaurant reviews.  A restaurant simply named Jose’s, which had a 100% approval rating, was the clear winner.  Armed with this crucial information, we set out on our trip.

After visiting a couple of tourist attractions, we decided to eat lunch.  My husband entered the address into the GPS, and, mouths watering, we headed to Jose’s.  Now, while the reviews gave Jose’s glowing reports about the food, it never mentioned that Jose’s was virtually impossible to locate.  Traveling back and forth over the same road at least five times, we had to stop for gas.  It was then we finally spotted a tiny sign on a non-descript strip center, not even close to the main road we were on.  We’d finally found it.  And, there were a couple of cars out front, so we ventured forth, hunger and hopes high.

After entering, it was apparent this was going to be a bit of a different dining experience.  On one side of the restaurant was a little Mexican store, including a meat counter with a prominently displayed jar of pickled pigs feet.  Beside the grocery were tables, and a counter with a blackboard that featured their specialty items for the day.  No prices were listed.  While surveying the chalkboard, we noticed a couple of ladies working on food preparation in the kitchen.  They noticed us standing there, but continued to work.  Finally, one of the ladies, rather hesitantly, approached, and in broken English, asked if she could help us.   Though she tried, she did not understand our questions, nor did we understand her answers.  Thankfully, a younger woman came over to the counter, and taking the pad from the other lady,  asked if she could help us.  The first woman retreated back into her kitchen, obviously preferring her comfort zone.  Successfully placing our order, we found seats at a nearby table.

When the meal finally arrived, and we tasted it, it was easy to see why Jose’s had garnered such praise.  I’ve eaten lots of Mexican food during my fifty-plus years on this planet.  More than my share.  In fact, I ate it everyday while pregnant with my son.  I figured he’d either love it, or hate it, once welcomed into the outside world.  Fortunately, he loves it, maybe even more than I do.  To me, one of the true tests for any Mexican restaurant is the quality of their guacamole.  And, Jose’s guacamole,  freshly prepared and including the rare-seen addition of roasted corn, did not disappoint.  Absolutely the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted.   My whole family agreed, this was great food!

After finishing a delicious lunch, I wanted to personally thank the ladies responsible for making this delectable feast.  Seeing the cooks sitting at a nearby table, taking a lunch break themselves,  my son and I went over to express our gratitude for such a lovely meal.  Since their understanding of English was rather limited, I decided to thank them in their native tongue.  Slowly approaching the ladies’ table, and catching their gaze, I opened my mouth, intending to say, “Muchos Gracias”.  That was my intention.  However, to our mutual horror, out came the words, “Mucho Gasso”!  What?  Did that just come out of my mouth.  Now, those ladies may not have understood much English, but these particular words they clearly understood.  It was written all over the mortified looks on their faces.  Quickly, like a knight in shining armor, my son stepped forward, announcing in perfectly enunciated Spanish, “Muy Delicioso”.  Whew.  The ladies looks quickly changed from horror to relief.  Surely, if I  can raise such a nice young fellow,  I can’t be all bad.  Disaster averted, we quickly paid the bill, leaving Jose’s.

Next time we go, I think I’ll practice my Spanish before opening my mouth.  Better yet,  maybe I’ll let my son do all the talking.

 

 

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Leftovers: Chicken Ala Compost Heap

I just polished off a Styrofoam container full of lasagna, fettucini alfredo, and grilled chicken with goat cheese–for breakfast.  You see, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with leftovers. Love the

Leftover Turkey Dec09 - 9
Leftover Turkey Dec09 – 9 (Photo credit: andynash)

taste; hate the calories.  Some foods, like lasagna, actually taste better the second time around.  The problem is, leftovers in the fridge call my name.  I don’t know how, but last night’s lasagna was able to communicate with my too-easy-to-entice brain, whispering “Eat me, you know you want to, eat me, already”.   Now, there are certain vocalizations I’m completely equipped to ignore, like the vocalization from my conscience, urging me to “exercise”.    Against the siren song of leftovers, however, I’m completely defenseless.

For my husband, a charter member of the “Clean Your Plate Club”, throwing out food, even bad food, is a sacrilege .  Having leftovers in the fridge seems to give him comfort;  as long as we have leftovers, we’ll never go hungry.   My son and I agree, more than two meals in a row containing the exact same components is going above and beyond our gastronomic capacity.   My preference is to throw out less-than appealing cuisine.  Once is enough.  Put the food (and us) out of our misery.   During my husband’s daily inventory of the contents of the fridge, the question of “What’s happened to the leftovers” inevitably comes up.  During these inquisitions, I’m torn.  Am I honest  with him, and confess to throwing out the undesirable food, resulting in a tirade about wasting food, and threats of cutting the grocery budget to the essentials (cheese and dog food).   More often than not, I tell him that we ate the atrocious food for lunch (a little white lie),  because, like Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie, “A Few Good Men”, my husband “can’t handle the truth”, and peace in the home is preserved, at least until our next meal.

Some people are able to “morph” their leftovers into a culinary creation virtually unrecognizable from the original dish, like turning roast chicken into chicken “magnifique” (a term rarely used to describe my original culinary creations.)   To my credit, I have tried this Power Ranger tactic a couple of times.  The results have been less than stellar.  The reactions to my latest creations run from “Nice try, Mom”, to “Do we have any fast food coupons?”  Let just say, Rachael Ray I’m not.

Unsuccessful at morphing leftovers, I started giving them to our dog.  Often, in fact. When my son started looking up stats for the World’s Heaviest Dog in the record books to see how our dog compared, I realized the error of my ways.  Fortunately, she wasn’t  a record-holder– yet.  After a stern talk from the vet at our dog’s annual check-up, and a prescription for doggy diet food, the dog’s no longer an acceptable receptacle for leftover disposal.

So, we’re back to the problem of what to do with all those leftovers.  Restaurant portions are large enough to feed a family of four.  If you’re able to convince your spouse  to share a meal with you, great, problem solved.  I’ve not been successful  at this request, however.  My husband wants an eighteen ounce Porterhouse steak, while I want chicken or fish.  Finding ourselves at an edible impasse, there’s always leftovers to wrap-up.

And, speaking of wrapping up, I’ve got to wrap-up my thoughts on leftovers.  My husband wants to take me out to eat–so, we can, you guessed it, have some more leftovers.  And, so on, and so on…Eat it again, Sam.