Monday, January 31, 2011

A Mexican Cook's Meal of Choice?

For this week’s anecdote I am going back to Mexico where my travel adventures began.

Many years ago during my summer vacations I visited a friend who lived in San Diego and we always made at least one foray to Tijuana. We usually rode the trolley to the border then walked up and across the ramp above the multitude of cars below that were going in both directions. After descending the ramp we walked through a very touristy plaza with all kinds of shops, outdoor cafés, and farmacías. I must admit that I love those kinds of places.

However, my companion, a non-Spanish-speaking lady, wanted to visit the real Tijuana without the hordes of tourists.

After quickly bypassing the tourist area we began walking up and down the busy business sections and shortly before noon we decided we were quite hungry. There were plenty of sidewalk stands selling all kinds of yummy tacos and we were tempted to buy some but we really wanted to sit down and eat a meal in comfort. My friend wanted to eat in a typical Mexican restaurant where no gringos had ever gone before. She wanted our meal to be completely authentic without any north of the border influence.

Finally, we found a little neighborhood café deep in the heart of Tijuana, which seemed to suit her just fine. She wanted to sample menudo because she had seen a recipe for it in a San Diego newspaper and she thought it looked delicious. I love menudo and hoped also that it would be on the menu but it wasn’t. I rather imagined that menudo would be offered on Sunday and suggested to her that perhaps we might return to Tijuana on a future Sunday.

So, we ordered a combination plate of tacos and enchiladas, arroz y frijoles. We took our time, savoring every bite, and observing the other Mexican patrons. Soon all of the diners had left except us. Then we noticed that the cook and the waiters were apparently getting ready to eat.

“I wonder what a Mexican cook eats for lunch,” said my friend.

“She’ll eat what everyone else has eaten,” I said all so knowingly. I mean, what kind of question was that to ask? What else would a Mexican cook eat in a Mexican restaurant in Tijuana, México?

Then I watched in horror as the cook set out some items on the counter and began preparing her lunch.

She had bypassed all those lovely, delicious antojitos and fixed herself—a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!!!

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