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.